“THE BIG SICK” Review

“A joyous, generous-hearted romantic comedy that, even as it veers into difficult terrain, insists that we just need to keep on laughing.” — Manohla Dargis, New York Times

It was a big bummer when I heard this movie was only shown in selected theaters for the first few weeks. Living in Charlottesville, the nearest showing location would take me a 4-hour round trip. So when I saw it’s coming to most of the local theaters this weekend, I immediately booked the tickets. And I guess there are dozens of people also eager to see this movie — the showroom is packed for a rom-com on Thursday night- something I have never seen before.

Story:

“Mostly, the movie works for the reason that all the best rom-coms do: you fall in love, a little bit, with Kumail and Emily, and want them to stay together.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

The story is based on real-life courtship of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who both are also the writers of this movie. Kumail (Nanjiani), a Pakistan-born stand-up comedian trying to make it in Chicago while being a part-time Uber driver, connects with graduate student Emily (Zoe Kazan) after she heckled his 5-minute standup set. What they thought to be a one-night stand, however, turns in the real thing, which contradicts Kumail’s muslim family tradition of arranged marriage. When Emily is struck with a mystery illness and put into a coma, Kumail has to navigate through the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he met for the first time in the hospital, while coping with stress from his family, who keep bringing Pakistan girls “by accident” to family dinner.

Acting:

“Nanjiani takes it easy in his first starring role; his timing is sneaky-deadly, so relaxed it’s almost imperceptible.” — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Playing an character who is and written by himself, Nanjiani gives most genuine performance of the year, while retaining comic traits seen in his other big project, “Silicon Valley” by HBO. Zoe Kazan, though not the real Emily, does show surreal movie chemistry with screen version of Kumail. 
What surprises me most, is the interaction between Romano and Hunter on screen. They portrait a middle-aged couple who show unconditional love for their daughter and regain their love for each other through the proceeding of story.

Take-away:

“It’s a movie that not only puts human imperfections and incongruities on display, but also revels in them.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Behind the endless jokes and funny moments, the movie has some pretty big hidden theme: marriage is not just clash of two individual beings, but also the family/friends behind them, and sometimes even two totally different culture. The characters are not just dealing with physical malfunctions but emotional ones as well. It is truly beautiful to see this story has a happy ending just like real life of the two writers.

Final Score: A-

A movie worthing watching in the theater. If you haven’t watched the first two Planet of Apes movies yet and need sometime to catch up before the third one, this will be the perfect alternative.

About the Author:
Roger Zhu is a PhD student studying Mechanical Engineering at University of Virginia. His research focus on biomechanics and fluid dynamics behind fish swimming. During his leisure time, he enjoys watching movies (obviously) and playing all kinds of instruments.

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