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Film Review: The Big Sick

11:15 July 17, 2017
By: Fritz Esker

If you’re looking for a break from summer action movies, The Big Sick is a good choice. It’s actually a good choice in any scenario, but it’s particularly welcome amidst the avalanche of reboots and sequels.

Comedian Kumail Nanjiani (HBO’s Silicon Valley) and his wife Emily V. Gordon co-wrote the film based on their own courtship and marriage. Nanjiani plays himself, a Pakistani who moved to the United States with his family at a young age. He tries to build a career as a stand-up comic while dodging his parents’ attempts to set him up in an arranged marriage.

Zoe Kazan plays Emily, a young woman he meets and falls for. About a half hour into the film, they have a major fight about Kumail’s willingness to defy his parents. Shortly thereafter, Emily becomes ill and the movie makes an abrupt shift story-wise. Kumail’s relationship to his family is still important, but he also builds a relationship with Emily’s parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter).

It makes for an oddly structured film and the movie rambles at times. But, it ultimately works because it does make you care about the characters. They’re all sympathetic without being saints and Nanjiani, Kazan, Romano, and Hunter all do strong work as the film’s four leads. It addresses culture clash issues intelligently and not in an overly sitcom way (like My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

It’s impossible for anyone other than the screenwriters to know how much of The Big Sick actually happened the way it’s depicted, but the film feels real regardless. 

*** stars (out of four)

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