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The Big Sick (2017) starring Kumail Nanjian and Zoe Kazan

Dave Longmore of Raver's Reviews looks at this romantic comedy. His YouTube channel is here:

The Big Sick is a Rom-Com and I use this term very loosely. It stars Kumail Nanjian, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Directed by Michael Showalter. Written by Kumail Nanjian and Emily V Gordon. This is produced by Apatow productions who has made some of the funniest films in the last 13 years.

The Big Sick plot is broken down into 3 storylines. Nanjian stars as a Pakistani cab driver who moonlights as a stand-up comic in his spare time. One night during his stand-up routine he gets a "whoo" by a female (Emily- Zoe Kazan) in the audience to which he corrects her as being heckled. Thus turning into a one night stand which turns into a relationship even if they both call it quits on more than one occasion. Meanwhile, Kumail wants to make it as a stand-up comic, but his traditional parents would rather he be a lawyer or doctor. Also being traditional parents they want Kumail to have an arranged marriage, as the Mom constantly brings over potential wives to dinner - much to the discomfort of Kumail. The burden of keeping a secret that Kumail is already seeing someone finally gets to him, so during one very uncomfortable dinner Kumail snaps and lets out his secret to his family. This leads to Kumail being somewhat estranged from them.

Storyline 2: Kumail breaks up with his girlfriend due to cultural relationship differences and Kumail having pictures of his potential wives. After the break-up, Emily gets very sick and is rushed to the hospital by Kumail. Kumail has to make a life-changing decision, even if he is not related or married to Emily. He calls Emily’s parents, which brings in the third storyline: the relationship between Emily’s parents and Kumail. This starts off on very shaky ground with Beth, Emily’s mom (Hunter) telling Kumail “he is not needed here” at the hospital. But eventually, Kumail and Emily’s parents get closer.

Watch a trailer:


This is a very funny film and cleverly written, also based on real life events. It’s funniest scenes are during the dinner table scenes and all of the ones between Kumail and his brother. It highlights the differences between Pakistani tradition and contemporary, with Kumail saying “why travel 5000 miles to America and live like we are still in Pakistan!” This film is also emotional as well, thanks to the two stand out performances from Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as the under-pressure parents. They also have some very grief stricken/ funny/ heart warming moments and even a gut wrenching scene in a comedy club. Holly packs weight into her role and gives it everything she has and more. Ray Romano plays the doting dad - but for some reason, it’s written that he has done something in the past which probably didn't need to be there in the script.

Kumail, as you may expect, has all the laugh out loud lines and has potential to do some serious acting, but his inexperience does show - especially when he has an argument with Emily, which comes off a little robotic (like he is reading straight from the cue card) compared to Holly, who is on another level. Kumail does finally tap into his emotions during one scene, which is good to see.

This film may not have the Rom-Com feel but that’s fine. This film is more about the dynamics of relationships - whether it’s between parents and their son, partners in/out of love and strangers who have one thing in common. This is the funniest film of the year so far. That’s all down to Kumail’s comedy timing. It’s also very emotional thanks to Romano and Hunter. Holly Hunter gives one of her best performances to date. If it was a straight drama, Hunter might be an early runner for an Oscar nomination.

I give The Big Sick a healthy 4 out of 5.

Rating: ☆☆☆

Where is it showing in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

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Showtimes in Cameo Edinburgh

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