Movies that are based on true stories can be tricky. As I’ve written before, the story has to walk the fine line of moments of value for the story being told versus here’s one more event that actually occurred in real life. Is what’s happening on screen furthering the plot and taking us on an emotional journey or are they just hurling one fact after another at us until we’re concussed with information? Let’s dive in and take a look at “The Big Sick” in this review…
The basic plot is two people meet, fall in love and get married. This is pretty standard. However, it’s everything that occurs between those plot points that make this film a treasure. The movie starts off with the two main characters Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and Emily (Zoe Kazan) meeting at a stand up night club where Kumail is working. From there, the romance begins to blossom but with certain complications. Kumail’s family is very religious and believes that since he is a muslim Pakistani he should marry a woman of the same lifestyle. So, at each family dinner the doorbell rings and a young, single, Pakistani woman just “drops by” to enjoy dinner with them and talk with Kumail. They provide him a photo/bio akin to something you’d see on a dating website and after each date he places those photos in a cigar box, never to be looked at again, or so we think. For Emily it’s different. Her family is open to the idea of her relationship with a man of different race and religion and so when Kumail meets her parents for the first time, they are well aware of him. His family, to the contrary, is not familiar with Emily until very late in the film. The manner in which he handles everything with his family in the third act is both inspired and comical despite the sad nature of things that actually occurred in real life.
Overall, this movie felt genuine and believable. The characters were all great and since this is based on a true story I was happy with how authentic everyone on screen felt. There’s a certain quality in this film that was reminiscent of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” however this film explores sadness and humor. Once Emily is in a coma the mood or tone of the film changes dramatically. It gets darker because the reality of the situation is just that. However, Kumail is a stand up comedian (in the movie and real life) so the manner with which he handles things helps bring levity to an otherwise depressing situation. Emily parents were also surprisingly great. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter play two parents who understand what it means to be a parent. There’s a passionate exchange towards the end of the second act where Emily’s mom (Holly Hunter) has to calmly tell Kumail (who is about to lose control and freak out) that they, as her parents, are always responsible for her. That one line of dialogue was powerful and so was her delivery! It continued to build on the realism of this film and the actors who portrayed these real life individuals.
“The Big Sick” is in theaters now! I definitely recommend you get out to the theater and support this film. It’s an independent film that has “A” list talent. It’s worth your hard earned dollars and it’s even a great date movie. It has some sad moments but overall there’s more laughs and heartfelt, touching, moments. I was happy I made the decision to see this movie in theaters and I hope you join me in supporting this movie. It’s touching. It’s genuine. It’e heartfelt. It’s honest. It’s worth your time and your money.