The Big Sick. A Review
If my memory serves me corectly, somewhere around the 20 minute mark of the 2001 cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, David Hyde Pierce when separating campers into groups refers to the nerdy group as "The Indoor Kids". Before the making of The Big Sick, co-writer and star of the movie Kumail Nanjiani and his co-writer and wife Emily V. Gordon had a popular podcast about video games on the Nerdist named.....you guessed it, The Indoor Kids.
Why am I bringing this up you may ask? Well first I want to show off a little bit, I have been a fan of Kumail and Emily for quite some time and consider them two of my favorite people I have never met. I also bring it up because the star of Wet Hot American Summer is none other than the director of The Big Sick Michael Showalter, and if there is a better way to describe the serendipity of The Big Sick then I don't know what is.
If you are unfamiliar The Big Sick is the true story of the previously mentioned Nanjiani and Gordon and their unconventional relationship. Kumail is working as a young stand up in Chicago trying to make a name for himself in the and Emily (Yes we are on a first name basis) was attending school to become a family therapist. One thing leads to another and the two begin to date, but after a brief separation Emily falls sick and is put into a medical coma. When Kumail is the only one available to be with Emily in the hospital he awkwardly meets the parents of the girl he broke up with and they try to get through the difficult time together.
If I have made this sound like a drama then I have done a bad job. Let me begin this paragraph by saying The Big Sick is the funniest movie of the year by far. Kumail and Emily are both incredibly funny but writing a comedy movie is different from being funny. I was giggling constantly and I found in a bunch of different ways. There are cute little flirty jokes between Emily (Played by Zoe Kazan who we will talk about in a bit) and Kumail that make you blush, but then there are also solid laughs that could be found in any kind of comedy movie.
A good amount of credit for how solid the comedy is goes to the writing of Gordon and Nanjiani but director Michael Showalter is a master at this craft. A few years ago Showalter wrote a movie called They Came Together starring Paul Rudd and Amy Pohler that expertly lampoons romantic comedy movies, and let me tell you it is fucking great. I have not gotten a chance to see Showalter's last directorial effort, My Name is Doris but I have heard great things. From his time with the comedy troupe Stella through The Big Sick Showalter has shown a knack for irreverent comedy and keeps his finder on the pulse.
We have discussed the comedy in The Big Sick for a while now, lets get to the meat and bones. Lots of movies are funny, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is funny, but there is not heart, no personality. The Big Sick is chock full of both those things and it comes from the bravery of Kumail and Emily to spill themselves into the script. We all have things we have done in relationships that we are not proud of, white lies, being overbearing, jealousy these are the things that make us human and I applaud the writers for not shying away from these things as they are as important as the funny stuff.
It can be difficult to tow the line between comedy and drama, but it becomes a lot easier when you have a cast as fantastic as the one The Big Sick has. Kumail stars as himself, but taking over the role of Emily V. Gordon (Gardner in the movie) is taken by Zoe Kazan. I don't think I remember seeing Zoe in anything before this but what a great job she does. As I said before I am a big Emily V. Gordon fan and I have watched and listened to her a lot through the years. Kazan captures Gordon about as well as I ever could have imagined and brings her to life on screen. I don't think there is much I can say about Kazan's on screen parents. Played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter......yes you red that right Ray GOD DAMNED Romano and Holly FUCKING Hunter are pro's and absolutely add an extra layer of both comedy and seriousness to this movie.
You may not have noticed (If not good on you, you are the least racist person ever) Kumail is Pakistani and to say that is a group that has not been well represented in Hollywood is an understatement. Not only are Pakistanis obviously well represented here they may be the best and funniest parts of the movie and they don't even have to use an Apu voice. I felt bad that I had never heard of or seen these actors before (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff as Kumial's parents and Adeel Akhtar as his brother) because they were so talented and funny. I have always said I enjoy movies that can show me something I have not seen before and The Big Sick provides a look into the world of a traditional Pakistani family warts and all.
I remember when Kumail and Emily started talking about writing The Big Sick on various podcasts and to see where they have ended up is enough to get this reviewer choked up. This movie is so damn good and even as a huge fan of theirs I never expected it to be this great. I know how much hard work has been put in by the creators and it's really just incredible to see them get so much praise. They deserve all of it, not because The Big Sick is amazing but because they did it their own way. They could have sold the script and let a studio change it and make it with Chris Pratt and Emma Stone. They instead decided to take a chance and make a great movie they can be proud of. I don't know where The Big Sick will end up on my end of the year list but as of now only Baby Driver and Get Out have been better so far, The Big Sick is not just an amazing romantic comedy but one of the best movies of the last few years.