The Must See romantic comedy The Big Sick is the closest thing to a perfect movie this summer. Kumail Nanjiani (Dinesh in Silicon Valley) plays a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian whose parents insist on arranging a marriage with a Muslim Pakistani woman. He falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan), who is neither Muslim nor Pakistani. Kumail is too cowardly to make a choice between Emily and his family, so he keeps delaying the decision by lying to both. At a critical moment in his relationship with Emily, she suddenly and mysteriously becomes very ill and is placed in a medically induced coma. Kumail waits out the coma in the hospital with Emily’s out-of-town parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), whom he is meeting for the first time. The parents have relationship issues of their own.
How can Kumail and Emily’s parents weather the stress of an unconscious loved one on a respirator? Will Emily’s parents accept Kumail? Will Emily’s parents stay together themselves? Will Kumail’s parents kick him out of the family? Will Emily wake up, and what will she think of Kumail if/when she does?
The coma may seem contrived, so it’s important that you know that THIS REALLY HAPPENED to Kumail Nankiani’s real-life wife Emily V. Gordon. Nanjiani and Gordon co-wrote this screenplay, with support from producer Judd Apatow.
The Big Sick is hilarious (and not just for a coma movie). The humor comes from the characters, and how they must individually deal with life’s struggles. Kumail is cowardly delaying a choice between Emily and his own family by lying to both; we know that’s it’s only a matter of time before somebody finds out, and the clock is ticking. The Big Sick is flawlessly directed by comedy writer and television director Michael Showalter.
Zoe Kazan, the very talented screenwriter (Ruby Sparks) and actress, makes us fall in love with Emily along with Kumail. Kazan nails the heartbreaking scene when she finds out that Kumail hasn’t been straight with her. It’s a pretty remarkable performance, especially given that she’s in a coma for most of the movie.
The casting of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily parents is inspired. Each of them brings unusual depth and texture to their characters, the tightly wound mom and the conflict-avoidant dad. Each has at least one of the Big Scenes that bring Oscar nominations
The Big Sick is the best American movie of the year so far and the best romantic comedy in years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love.