As I attempt to play catch up and see everything that is in contention for award season, I finally got to one I wanted to see – The Big Sick. Not to say I didn’t want to see the others, but this is one that looked like it would break the stuffy / uptight Oscar-bait mold. One of the oddities about this movie is that even though I knew the entire plot of the movie, I still wanted to see it … I just never got around to seeing it in theatres. Unlike the Amazon Studio release that escaped me (Manchester by the Sea), I watched it the first chance I had. So what was my opinion?
I would give it 8 “highballs” out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
A story based on Kumail Nanjiani’s life and how he met his wife (spoiler). Kumail is a stand-up comedian struggling to be American while also fitting into the Pakistani culture expected by his parent. He falls for an American girl (i.e.: not a Pakistani girl arranged by his mother), which is an issue with his family so he keeps it a secret. Shortly after they break-up due to perceived cultural differences, Emily (the girl) gets sick and is placed into a medically induced coma. Kumail then spends time with the mother / father while waiting to see what happens.
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Written by: Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Ramano, Bo Burnham, and Aidy Bryant
The obvious highlight is the comedy, but the dry, witty banter between Kumail and Ramano’s character is what made it for me. The back and forth with other comics was great, but I could not get enough of the over explained jokes and deadpan reactions. I am not sure if this was executed so well due to both actors also having a background in stand-up, or maybe it was exaggerated slightly due to my knowledge of the actors prior to the movie. The dry humor was prevalent throughout the movie, they just seemed to have the lion’s share. There were several scenes where I almost felt guilty laughing at some of the jokes due to the sarcastic nature.
After watching it, I was surprised the runtime was only 2 hours. The Big Sick was structured to show Kumail’s life prior, during, and after Emily was in a coma … but I feel like they showed too much. No scene dragged on, but many of them could have been cut without affecting the core story. The stand-up scenes gave a lot of insight to his life outside of Emily, but could have easily been condensed into a montage for the same effect. The one man show bits were completely unnecessary.
One of the big praises is the interesting take on the romantic comedy genre, on which I completely agree. If you like rom-coms even slightly then you will love this movie. While it is gone from most theatres by now, it is free on Amazon Prime if you have that streaming service. I would highly recommend seeing it before award season kicks into high gear since it will be mentioned a lot.
My recommendation for another interesting take on the rom-com genre is Groundhog Day. While it may take a more fantastical comedy as opposed to the realistic take that The Big Sick does, the new angle is sure to draw in a bigger crowd. The gist of the plot has Bill Murray reliving one day over and over again for better or worse. It is a classic, so if you haven’t seen it then do yourself a favor.
As a bonus recommendation: The Big Sick seems to be the movie analog to Aziz Ansari’s Master of None … so if you liked the show then you should like the movie or vice versa.