‘The Big Sick’ might be the best rom-com of the year

Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanijani in ‘The Big Sick’
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“True love stories never have endings” – Richard Bach

The Big Sick is based on the true story of its male lead, Kumail Nanijani (The Five-Year Engagement) and his wife, Emily V. Gordon (a talented writer).  The two of them co-wrote the screenplay.

Kumail is a stand-up comedian of Pakistani descent who lives in Chicago.  So do his parents Azmat (Anumpam Kher – Silver Linings Playbook) and Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff – When Harry Tries to Marry).  There are weekly dinners that Kumail attends along with his brother Naveed (Adeel Akhtar – The Dictator).  Each week there is a knock at the door and saying the exact same thing every time, Sharmeen opens that door and in walks a Pakistani woman.  This is how Kumail’s parents are attempting to arrange his marriage per the custom that brought them together.  Kumail grins and bears these encounters and then goes home, carrying a photo and a resume of the woman.  These are tossed into a cigar box and immediately ignored.

Kumail works as an Uber driver which enables him to spend as many nights as possible doing stand-up at a comedy club run by Andy (David Allen Grier – The Poker House).  He is close with several of the other comics who work the club, most of whom seem to be on the verge of “breaking” bigger.

One night when Kumail is on stage, Emily (Zoe Kazan – Our Brand is Crisis) is in the audience with a friend and Emily “woo-hoos” during Kumail’s set.  His explanation of how a woo-hoo constitutes heckling results in his stopping by her table after his set.  They have a great first date and begin a relationship.

A relationship that ends abruptly when Emily learns that Kumail has kept a number of things about him and the relationship hidden from Emily, and others.  Then comes a phone call from Emily’s friend to Kumail letting him know she is at the emergency room.  She asks him to go there as all of her friends are otherwise engaged.  He arrives and soon after, she is placed into a medically induced coma.

Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and Kumail Nanijani in ‘The Big Sick’

Her parents are summoned.  Her mother Beth (Holly Hunter – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and father Terry (Ray Romano – Rob the Mob) are surprised to find Kumail at the hospital.  Emily kept them very informed about her relationship and break-up with him.  As they wait together he eventually wins them over to varying degrees.

It is in this part of the movie, as Kumail and Emily’s parent struggle to find a way to deal with an illness that is incredibly difficult to diagnose; that this film is at its best.  Beth and Terry have their own issues and they make for a nice subplot in the last act of the movie.  There is a scene where they go to watch Kumail doing stand-up that is also very well done.  Kumail may never become a leading man but he does an excellent job   He also has excellent on-screen chemistry with Zoe Kazan, who the camera simply adores.  There is tension, love and laughter in The Big Sick and it is well worth your time and money.

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Brian Milinsky

Brian Milinsky has served in the military, been an FM D.J. and an award-winning radio news reporter/anchor/writer/editor. He is presently a screenwriter and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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