The Big Sick Screen 18 articles

The Big Sick


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  • 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).

  • [Showalter's] anarchic sensibility (as best represented in his absurdist sketch comedy troupes The State and Stella) is completely absent from the film. Granted, that sensibility isn’t necessarily appropriate for the rooted-in-reality The Big Sick, but Showalter’s other directorial projects like The Baxter and Hello, My Name Is Doris... perform some loving tweaks of the standard rom-com. Unfortunately The Big Sick remains fairly standard due to its avoidance of difficult material.

  • Plays like a feature-length prelude to what could have been “My Big Fat Pakistani Wedding,” but without the vital and vigorous vulgarity of Nia Vardalos’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and with, instead, the sophistication and good taste apt for more educated viewers seeking indie-brand movies... “The Big Sick” labors under the curse of the relatable, the likable, the admirable. Despite the fact that the movie is rooted in personal experience, it seems impersonal—not universal, simply blank.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • You’d still call it a decent rather than mould-breaking film, hamstrung by the cosiness that follows from knowing Emily will survive to claim her co-writer credit; the second hour, indeed, has so much narrative to resolve that it often forgets to be funny. Nevertheless, the sweetness radiating outwards from Nanjiani sustains it.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • It succeeds in doing so many things that romantic comedies—to the extent that they’re even made anymore—have failed to do for years. It shows, believably, what life is like in the corners of a relationship, and examines the ways in which our families, unwittingly or otherwise, sometimes obstruct our path to happiness without really meaning to. It also suggests that the means by which we measure the “success” of a relationship sometimes have little to do with the nuts and bolts of real life.

  • One of those rare, unique, magical films which deals with a most serious subject matter wrapped within a seemingly diametrically opposed hilarious comedy.

  • Another strength is the film’s matter-of-fact treatment of South Asian customs. For Kumail, arranged marriage is just a fact of life, and the film takes the same attitude. Its message – that cultures are different but can coexist peacefully – is a welcome one in these riven times, and reinvigorates the tired romcom genre.

  • It is, in short, one of the most charming comedies of the year. The script succeeds at tackling its themes—the immigrant experience, millennial dating habits in the digital age, how different cultures approach the institution of marriage—with tremendous specificity and without ever losing sight of the chemistry at the core.

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