The Big Sick Screen 80 of 11 reviews

The Big Sick


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  • Littered with memorable performances by both comedians and bona fide actors like Holly Hunter, The Big Sick is, most importantly, hilarious, a rare quality impossible to overvalue.

  • Comedy is said to be hard; mostly, I think, by comics. Romantic comedy is apparently even tougher, at least from recent onscreen evidence. Few filmmakers know how to fit contemporary men and women, straight or gay, into narrative forms that were developed once upon a time... Mr. Nanjiani and Ms. Gordon vault over that hurdle with openness and delight, revitalizing an often moribund subgenre with a true story of love, death and the everyday comedy of being a 21st-century American.

  • It’s easy for romantic comedies (especially ones involving a mysterious illness plot twist) to slip into purely sappy territory. But thanks to Nanjiani and Gordon’s script—equally funny, frank, and frightening—The Big Sick emerges as an unshakeable comedy made by, and for, a generation rediscovering what intimacy means.

  • Diversity, in storytelling as in real life, is a rewarding but messy business, and “The Big Sick” is both a delightful comedy and an imperfect milestone. With any luck, we’ll look back on it someday and it won’t feel like a milestone at all.

  • The film is always at least gut-rumbling and keeps its humor in situations that are morose and awkward: How exactly do you hang out with your comatose ex’s parents in your ex’s own apartment? But it all feels oddly natural. In the tense limbos structuring The Big Sick, it’s comedy that lets people say difficult things and address simmering subsurface tensions.

  • The intrusion of life-or-death medical drama into the comedic space helps give The Big Sick more experiential breadth than most standard-issue romantic comedies... At times The Big Sick’s capaciousness of heart can make it feel a little … roomy. The two-hour running time doesn’t exactly zip by; there are some narrative valleys to cross in the second half, including a largely unnecessary subplot about Kumail’s comedy-club buddies.

  • In concept, a lot of the material could be played for rather cutesy humor or a quick punchline—and there is some of that. But there's a groundedness to the film (particularly in its generosity towards its characters) that both charms and moves, even as it maintains its punchy, jokey rhythms. The structure can seem somewhat shambling and some beats a touch overdetermined; but it's the kind of personal story that actually _feels_ personal.

  • At a moment in which the subgenre of the semi-personal movie or TV series about a comedian feels like it's approaching exhausted, The Big Sick offers assurance that there's more to be explored, and that there are plenty of funny people out there with fresh stories to tell.

  • It's hard to do justice to the weird tonal balancing act of this film: Based on the writer-star’s own life, it’s about the romance that develops between struggling comic and Uber driver Nanjiani (playing himself) and psychiatry student Emily (Zoe Kazan). But then it heads off into surprisingly grim territory, without ever betraying its wild sense of humor.

  • You couldn’t make this delightful comedy up. The real-life nature of the cross-cultural romance between a Pakistan-born stand-up comedian and his American girlfriend – and their families - lifts the The Big Sick into the big league. It also forces the Judd Apatow-produced film into some unexpectedly dramatic moments when one of the characters becomes gravely ill, but this is a carefully-crafted comedy which can withstand the tonal shifts.

  • Film Comment: Laura Kern
    March 03, 2017 | Sundance | March/April 2017 Issue (p. 65)

    Nanjiani and Kazan lack for chemistry, for the time Emily is awake anyway—in reference to the title, she becomes ill and spends much of the film in a coma. And while Kazan does what she can with the underdeveloped role, she still functions like a cute prop in Kumail's story (which is surprising considering that the script was co-written by the real-life Emily).

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