Monday, July 17, 2017

The Big Sick

On Saturday I saw The Big Sick, starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan.

Kumail (Nanjiani) is a struggling stand up comic doing his best to avoid his mother's attempts at setting him up with a Pakistani wife. One night he gets heckled by Emily (Kazan), a white girl who lives nearby and they have a meet cute and fall in love.

Unfortunately, their path to happily-ever-after wasn't so simple: his parents weren't okay with him falling for a white girl so he broke up with her and Emily became severely ill, going into a coma shortly after their courtship fell apart.

While she's unconscious, Kumail realizes his feelings for her and visits her hospital room often. He gets to know her parents (played here charmingly by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) and grows on them. By the time Emily wakes up, he's ready to resume their relationship, but she hasn't had the same time to process her feelings. So another roadblock emerges.


Sad as this all sounds, the film is a comedy. And, remarkably, it's also true—co-written by the real-life couple (Kumail and his wife Emily V. Gordon).

I have to admit, I'm still on the fence about this one.

I wanted desperately to like it because I tend to embrace stories of love overcoming all odds to prevail. I also appreciate when people with deep cultural values can learn to embrace new ideas and ideals for the sake of love. This has all of that ... but it's not perfect.

First, Kumail playing himself takes me out of the story. Maybe it's because I know him from Silicon Valley or because he always seems to have a smirk on deck even if the scene isn't comedic, but him being him made the rest of the cast feel like they were trying too hard (and they're all amazing actors who delivered stellar performances). I believed Emily was very ill. I got that Emily's father had greatly hurt Emily's mother. But that all felt like a play because Kumail was always there, hanging out, reminding us this was his life we were seeing.

I also found the roommate to be too dumb. They dedicated a lot of screen time to emphasizing how much of a loser he was, then made the audience feel guilty for not feeling worse when he didn't get chosen to be part of something the rest of them did. I would have much rather had that time with the other comedians or happy moments with the couple when all was said and done.

Annoying as well were the moments with Kumail's family. They seemed very one-dimensional since we seldom see them away from the dinner table.

I can't imagine what it must be like to see your life rewound on the big screen and I applaud the couple for the courage to tell their story.

i just wish it went lighter on the stereotypes and deeper into the heart of their love.


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