A breakup, heartache, a coma and comedy?
Yes, it’s probably the funniest movie about a coma you’ve ever seen.
BQB here with a review of “The Big Sick.”
You’ve seen comedian Kumail Nanjiani on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” where he delivers jokes with a cunning, deadpan style, often only alerting viewers that a joke has even taken place with a subtly playful eye movement.
Now comes his big screen debut in an autobiographical story about how he and his wife Emily found their own happily ever after.
In this film, Kumail plays himself. He’s a Pakistani immigrant, his parents having moved to the US when he was a boy. He’s struggling as a stand-up comic in Chicago when he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan playing a fictional version of Kumail’s real life wife Emily.)
The duo hits it off, finding that brilliant romance most of us can only dream about. Alas, there’s a problem. Kumail’s family are very traditional, devout Muslims. In particular, his mother will accept nothing less than his marriage to a Pakistani Muslim woman. Whenever Kumail visits for family dinner, his mother arranges for a different prospective Muslim girl to “drop in” in to meet her son.
Ultimately, Kumail is pressured, forced to choose between disappointing his family or disappointing a woman he sees as the great love of his life. A fight ensues, a breakup occurs and shortly thereafter, Emily is hospitalized and put into a forced coma as doctors wrack their brains trying to figure out how to cure a freak, rare infection.
None of this sounds like it should be good fodder for comedy. Honestly, there are many tender, touching moments that highlight the gut wrenching pain that comes with love – the choices we must make, the comprises we must make, the decisions we must make, all in the name of figuring out how to stay true to ourselves while making another person happy.
Kumail loves this woman, so much so that he parks himself in the hospital, waiting for his love to wake up. This is to the great chagrin of Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano), Emily’s parents who fly in to care for their daughter in her time of need.
Beth and Terry only know that their daughter’s last pre-coma thoughts of Kumail was that he was a dick who’d screwed the whole relationship up – not a great first impression to make on your prospective future in-laws.
Meanwhile, Emily’s illness is so rare that someone needs to do the legwork necessary to research it and check up on the doctors to see if they are making the right decisions.
It’s up to Kumail to try to save the day, to save his love, to win over her parents….all in all, a very tall order that most people are ill equipped to handle.
It’s an ambitious scenario to be certain. In another comedian’s hands, it could have fallen flat. However, as Kumail reaches his boiling point outside a fast food drive-thru, beating the crap out of a trash can when a cashier refuses to put extra cheese on his burger as he tries to satisfy a stress eating binge, we laugh…and we can relate. We all have had those moments where life freaks us out to our tipping point.
Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are great as the parents. Ray’s character is epically lonely, in search of a friend that he finds in Kumail. This is actually the most acting I’ve ever seen Ray Romano do. Holly dumps on Kumail with reckless abandon until other people start dumping on Kumail and her mama grizzly bear claws come out.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Good date film. Time will tell if Kumail will be able to repeat this success, but he and Emily had such a unique, touching story that it really pays off on film.