Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Monday, July 10, 2017

Movie Review: The Big Sick


I'll cut to the chase -- "The Big Sick" is the best movie I've seen so far this year.

It's a romantic comedy based on the real lives of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, who co-wrote the script. In the movie, he plays himself and Zoe Kazan plays her -- and their chemistry onscreen is wonderful. Their relationship gets off to a nice start, then hits a rough patch, then enters unforeseen territory when Emily gets mysteriously sick and has to be put into a medically-induced coma.

Kumail goes to the hospital to check on this woman he's obviously grown fond of, and encounters her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who at first don't know why he's there or what to make of him. Meanwhile, whenever Kumail has dinner with his parents (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher), they keep trying to set him up with Pakistani-American women, unaware that he's fallen for the Emily, a Caucasian woman. All four actors who play the parents are perfect.

Meanwhile, we also see Kumail in his professional life as a comedian trying to make it in Chicago. Unlike in so many other movies, the standup scenes work because everyone in them (including Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, and Kurt Braunohler) has experience in and around real comedy clubs.

As he has proven in both his standup work and on the HBO series "Silicon Valley," Kumail is a master of dry wit, and it comes through in the script, which crackles every time he's on screen (which is most of the movie). I laughed out loud several times and will have to watch it again because the audience I saw it with laughed so much I missed some of the lines.

I can't imagine how difficult it was for Kumail and Emily to have gone through that medical nightmare in real life, then turn it into a screenplay, and then have to perform it (or see someone else perform her role) on camera. But I'm glad they did, because they've created a warm, honest, clever, funny movie that will certainly be on my Best Of 2017 list. In fact, it's likely to be at the top, because I can't find anything wrong with it -- even at two hours, it never limps along and nothing seems extraneous.

That's why I'm giving "The Big Sick" a perfect 10 out of 10.

Moreover, I'll predict that Hunter gets an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and Nanjiani/Gordon get one for Best Original Screenplay. Those are the categories in which comedies this good -- which haven't won Best Picture in a couple of decades -- at least have a chance.