The Big Sick

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Swanner: Kumail is a Pakistani comic who is trying to make his way in the Chicago comedy scene. He comes from a strict Pakistani family who wants to arrange his marriage to a nice Pakistani girl. The problem is: he’s dating a white girl. Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, wrote the screenplay based on their own life where, after breaking up, she becomes very ill and Kumail needs to decide if his love for Emily is stronger than his love for his family’s heritage. 

Director Michael Showalter had the tough job of directing someone’s real life (While he stars as himself in the film) and then make a girl in a coma funny. Fortunately his main lead and his real wife gave him lots to work with, and a cast that delivers. The script, which is rich and funny, follows the sweet courtship of the two main characters till Emily (Zoe Kazan) finds out that their romance will never go forward since Kumail will never disappoint his family (interracial marriages make you dead to the family). Shortly after their break-up, Emily falls ill and is placed in a coma. That’s when her mother and father arrive, played brilliantly by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter.    

The rest of the film focuses on Kumail’s career in stand-up that’s crumbling beneath him while he takes care of Emily and her parents. Even though it’s a highly emotional film, it never turns into a Terms of Endearment, where you spend the last act in tears. It didn’t want to be that movie. It wanted to be it’s own film; and it succeeds over and over again.  There was so much to love about this film: the performances, the script and the direction are terrific. I loved that Kumail falls for Emily again through his growing attachment to her parents and how her parents show him how parents should behave. See this film, you’ll love it too.

Swanner: 3 1/2 stars

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