Director: Michael Showalter
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 120 Minutes
Poignant and incredibly funny, The Big Sick is a modern love story directed by Michael Showalter. Showalter, probably best known for his roles in the Wet Hot American Summer franchise, delivers us a solid follow-up to last year’s Hello, My Name is Doris, a similarly funny and endearing story.
Starring Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick is a film that manages to find the humor in a pretty terrible situation – one in which a struggling, up-and-coming comedian finds himself at the bedside of his ailing ex-girlfriend and face to face with her grieving parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter). At the same time, Kumail (who is essentially playing himself) is skirting around telling his ultra-traditional Pakistani family about his love life.
Nanjiani’s deadpan delivery is a true joy in this film. His jokes, like those in his HBO show Silicon Valley, landed brilliantly, showing that his comedic timing works just as well on the silver screen as it does on the small screen. Yet he breaks away from his Dinesh Chugtai character, a comparably insecure and awkward programmer who’s lacking in business acumen, and introduces us to a much more charismatic persona.
I went into The Big Sick already knowing that this story was based very closely on the events that occurred in the real lives of Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, also co-writers on the film (although the real-life pair never really broke up.) I can’t say for sure if that’s why this movie had a sense of authenticity to it or if it’s just a credit to Gordon and Nanjiani’s writing abilities.
As Emily, Zoe Kazan is a refreshing onscreen presence. She’s not your typical female lead, and, while – yes – she does serve as the object of the main (male) character’s affections for the bulk of the movie, she is also strong willed, independent, ambitious and confident enough to recognize her own self-worth.
This is especially evident when it is looking as though the man with whom she has been spending so much of her time never really saw the two of them being together long term. Most every woman I know can likely relate to that internal rage of feeling “led on,” so (fictional) Emily’s response felt totally valid and cathartic. There’s also this very relatable moment, which I won’t ruin for you, that makes Kazan incredibly endearing as an actress and makes us want to root for Emily and Kumail even more.
This one gets a strong recommend from me.