The Big Sick Review – Genuinely Funny, Entertaining, A Modern Romantic Comedy

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The Big Sick, from Lionsgate and FilmNation Entertainment, present the story of love, with all the difficulties of the comedic modern romance, of culture, of memories of relationships past, and family ties that bind, break, and hold.

Directed by Michael Showalter, The Big Sick stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Aktar, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burham, Kurt Braunohler, David Alan Grier, Jeremy Shamos, Vella Lovell and Ed Herbstman and was written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani.

The Big Sick begins in Chicago, at any given comedy club with our fledgling group of Stand Ups, Mary, played by Aidy Bryant; Sam, played by Ed Herbstman; CJ played by Bo Burnham; Chris, played by Kurt Braunohler and Kumail played by Kumail Nanjiani.

On this night, the comics are feeling a bit on edge as the talent scout for the Montreal Comedy Festival, Bob Dalavan, played by Jeremy Shamos, is in the audience like a vulture picking over the carcasses of the careers and feeding their deflated egos with a golden ticket invite.

By nights end, a few laughs, a few drinks and suddenly the comics/Uber drivers/hoping to escape from prison are celebrities and the wide-eyed coeds ready for the celebrity experience.

Which is when we meet Emily, played by Zoe Kazan, who is sharing a drink with Kumail. A few seduction lines later and the two are heading to his place. One thing leads to another and soon even as they swear off each other every time they seem to gravitate back to each other and with all the tiptoeing and sidestepping they finally admit they are in a relationship.

Which is when the claustrophobic strangulation seems to take over our couple as hidden secrets that never found the right place or time for revelation are suddenly blurted out or are awkwardly discovered.

As Emily and Kumail struggle with the timing of their relationship, Kumail has never told her that his parents, and family which he values, have put him on Pakistani’s Most Eligible bachelor list in Chicago and according to custom the women submit head shots highlighting their qualifications. His mother is the broker and all the women must pass her strict test. He entertains her desire for him, graciously accepts the photos, and places each of them in a cigar box never to be looked at again.

One night as Emily is staying over she finds the photos. Suddenly the secrets, the lies, the need for family, the hopes all, in an instant, shattered.  The two can’t seem to get past her first marriage and his cigar box of Pakistani most eligible, beautiful, highly educated, driven and living in the U.S., females.

Out of the blue after the two had remained apart, he received a call from a friend of hers, she is in the hospital and needs someone to watch over her, can you come by?

It is at this point we find out how The Big Sick got its name, as within hours of his arrival, the doctor explained that Emily needed to be placed in an medically induced coma or she would die and as next of kin would he sign? As many times as he tried to explain he’s not next of kin, the doctor replied with if she is not placed in this coma she will die.

Which is where we meet Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, who enter as Beth and Terry, Emily’s parents from North Carolina.

The Big Sick is side-splitting funny, in moments bordering on hysterical, genuine. real, I forgot where I am laughter, and I understand how it must sound as we have just left Emily in a medically induced coma, and the film, even with those scenes which are tender and caring, is really laugh out loud funny.

The casting of Ray Romano and Holly Hunter is brilliant. Ms. Hunter, with her southern drawl, and pint size appeal adds volumes. She was familiar, tender, caring and became every mother, every parent whose daughter is suddenly stricken with an unknown virus. She was impressive and the connection between herself and Mr. Romano seems genuine. They portrayed an actual couple and it translated well. I wouldn’t have expected less. It was the best performance by Ms. Hunter in some time.

With the cultural divide, the elephant in the room was Kumail parents, played by Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Ker, and family, brother Adeek Akhtar who were over the top Pakistani and hysterical as the secret finally reaches the epic proportion resulting in a cultural breakdown.

The ensemble cast brings together east and west and makes for a cultural explosion of comedic proportions. Overall the film is very well done, the fledgling stand up’s are hilarious as they routinely bomb and look to each other for the comradery and support of a self-help group and like true friends, they circle the wagons, explain it away with four words, “It was the audience.” And off they go one stage for another high.

The Big Sick is a true story, of a stand-up comic from Pakistan, Kumail, and a Master’s Candidate in Chicago, Emily, who find each other on a cold, windy, winter night. The next steps of the journey, as the course of true love never runs smooth, is probably the most up, down, mixed up, complicated, misunderstood, hopeful, and yes, funny trip.

A romantic comedy, The Big Sickwill have you laughing at love, at life, at good intentions and misunderstandings, at the strength of parents, and more than anything at ourselves as the writers, Emily and Kumail, seems to be able to find the romantic in all of us, the common oddity that we hope no one ever sees.

The Big Sick is playing in select cities and opens everywhere July 14, 2017. It is entertaining, a very funny, feel good, modern romantic comedy.

Images courtesy of IMDB.

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