Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Big Sick review

When Kumail Meets Emily, I mean The Big Sick is a romantic comedy that is based on Pakistani writer Kumail Nanjiani cross cultural and interracial romance with Caucasian Emily Gordon. She also co-wrote the screenplay. Now, when you see a romantic comedy get ready for the formula. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back assuming you want the Hollywood ending.

Kumail (played by the real Kumail Nanjiani) is a struggling Pakistani-American stand-up comedian in Chicago. During a performance, he's heckled by Emily (Zoe Kazan), a Caucasian woman. When Kumail finishes his set, he goes over to her and hits on her. Later that night, they have sex. Really. This never happens to me. There is a reason for  sex on the first meeting, I won't say impossible on the random sex act because I'm sure it happens somewhere. It's because this film probably would have been three hours long if the two waited for the third date.

Anyway, between Kumail's stand-up and his Uber driving, he is able to maintain a relationship with Emily. Kumail is also pressured by his Muslim parents, father Azmat (Anupam Kher) and mother (Zenobia Shroff) Sharmeen to marry a nice Pakistani girl. Hey it ain't going to be a bad girl. They arrange meetings with women at family dinners. You see in Kumail's culture, people are married by arrangement. And your new wife better be Muslim. It's like Fiddler on the Roof. You know where the Jewish father starts to sing "Tradition." Will I get in trouble by mixing Jews and Muslims? By the way, I can make jokes about Jews and Muslims since I'm a Chinese American. (That's a joke.)

Well, Kumail keeps his relationship with Emily a secret from his parents and that fact from Emily. All right, here it comes.  Boy loses girl.   Then girl goes into a coma.  Um... well it happens this way.  Emily gets sick and must be placed in a medically induced coma. What?! Is this thing turning into Love Story?. Guess what? I've researched this and it really happened to the real Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon. (People) So there. The big, crazy plot point is actually based on something true.   But why should we be surprised at crazy stuff in real life?   We've got a guy who brags he molests women, betrayed his country for the Russians as our President of the United States.   .

Anyway, Emily's parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) arrive to care for their daughter. I don't think Romano will ever shake his character in Everybody Loves Ray unless he plays a serial killer. But God love Holly Hunter. Her Beth is a passionate, loving, Southern liberal. Yeah, they do exist.

Kudos to Nanjiani and Gordon's writing.  You want to see how talented Nanjiani is?   He plays this guy in the video game Mass Effect: Andromeda.   He's the voice of Jarun Tann, a Salarian.  You know those guys with two horns for a head and nasal voices.

But I digress. This film succeeds because of two things. First, the jokes work. The writers are unafraid of poking fun at Muslim traditions, and other topics that do not lend themselves to comedy. There are jokes about 9-11 terrorists, dog erections and being in a coma. And while some of the comedians in the movie disagree about how much  humor is in dog erection jokes, I think they can be quite funny. Second, the romance works. Emily loves Kumail. But can he overcome his cultural upbringing to embrace his love for her?

The Big Sick is very funny, and has a big heart. The grade is A.

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