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article imageReview: ‘The Big Sick’ is an instant favourite Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 30, 2017 in Entertainment
‘The Big Sick’ is not your typical romantic comedy as it easily wins over audiences with its unmatched authenticity and humour.
While online avenues are supposed to have made dating simpler, meeting someone — the right someone — is as difficult as ever. After all, once you get over the initial hurdle of actually going on a first date, everything that follows is generally the same: deciding if you share similar views on the big things, meeting each other’s friends and family, and potentially planning your futures together. It’s also a wrench in one or more of these steps that can lead to a relationship’s demise. Even worse, is just simply being too afraid to commit — because as one character learns in The Big Sick, you don’t always get a second chance.
Much to his traditional Pakistani family’s chagrin, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is an aspiring stand-up comedian and part-time Uber driver. Due to the endless shame and disappointment he’s caused them, they insist the least he can do is marry a girl of their choosing. Thus, each time he has dinner with his family, an eligible young woman with a headshot just happens to “drop by.” But none of them catch his eye like Emily (Zoe Kazan), an encouraging heckler Kumail meets after one of his shows. They begin dating and things are going swimmingly until Kumail confesses he’s afraid to tell his parents about her. Before he can reconsider his decision, Emily becomes seriously ill and then comatose — leaving him to sort out his feelings with her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano).
It’s not often a movie includes such realistic characters that are as entertaining as they are relatable. Outside of all the comedians vying for a spot in the lineup of the Montreal Comedy Festival (a.k.a. Just for Laughs?), everything they experience feels genuine. Kumail and Emily have a normal relationship that includes embarrassing revelations, sweatpants and laughter. His comedian friends are expectedly smart-alecky, while hers are supportive to their own detriment. Emily’s parents are loving people who are understandably anxious but trying to keep a brave face, each dealing with the increasing complexity of their daughter’s condition the best they can — which isn’t always together. Kumail’s interactions with them are naturally awkward, yet some of the most honest of the entire film. What stands out most is they all feel like real people.
In spite of dealing with a fairly serious subject, there is a lot of humour in this movie. Even more notably, it never feels forced. One of the biggest laughs of the film comes from an uncomfortable exchange between Kumail and Emily’s dad regarding 9/11, delivering one of the best comebacks to well-meaning racism in cinematic history. More giggles are sure to accompany the scenes in which Kumail dines with his family and meets several potential wives. Audiences will find themselves laughing through the entire picture before it finally puts a sappy smile on their already smirking faces.
Produced by Judd Apatow, the picture feels a lot like one of his films except for one crucial difference: this narrative isn’t about upper-class people facing difficulties — they’re more down-to-earth from the beginning. Co-written by Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon (notice the similarities), and directed by Michael Showalter, this movie is filled with sincerity and humour. And although the younger couple is at the centre of the film, Emily’s parents often steal the show. Romano is delightful as the somewhat dorky father and Hunter is a force to be reckoned with. Their presence is what elevates this movie to one of the year’s best films — and it’s a rom-com!
Director: Michael Showalter
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter
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