Let me give you some advice, Kumail. Love isn’t easy. That’s why they call it love.
…I don’t really get that.
I’ve been a fan of Kumail Nanjiani since I discovered his podcast work. It’s a real thrill to see him take the lead in a movie that’s getting good response and I hope it’s a signal of things to come. The story is, at first, a pretty typical boy-meets-girl story about how Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, his now wife, met and fell in love. But somewhere along the way, things take a strange turn and you start to see why the story is more than that. Nanjiani and Gordon co-wrote the screenplay and it has a wonderful voice, sharply comic, but sweet & sincere too. The cast is quite good. Nanjiani holds the movie together really well. Zoe Kazan is, as always, a force of pure charisma and delight as Emily; I really wish she’d act more in movies, but then she’s a writer too. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are both brilliant (Romano is absolutely, no-question career best in a minimal, atypical performance) as Emily’s harried parents. Vella Lovell is wonderful, charming and naturalistic in a small supporting role. The characters never quite fall into the stereotypes they easily could in a lesser film. Romano & Hunter are close to the typical “henpecked husband” roles, but then the movie deepens both characters in interesting ways. Lovell has a charming presence, but then she gets a great scene, unfortunately her last in the film that changes the way we see her character completely. And Kazan isn’t your typical “manic pixie dreamgirl;” she’s prickly and, particularly in the third act, insulted when she feels that her role in Nanjiani’s life is mainly a redemptive one, where loving her teaches him to grow up and stand on his own; she’s really just not having any of that nonsense and you can feel Gordon’s influence in keeping her surrogate character honest and real. The film isn’t perfect. It’s too long for one thing and, while the scenes surrounding the business of stand-up comedy all ring true, it seems like they could be trimmed down to at least half, maybe a quarter, of what they are in the movie. Though that one-man-show bit is a comedic beast. Nanjiani & Gordon are a force to be reckoned with, if you ask me. But it’s mostly a delightful movie, often laugh out loud funny, filled with insightful observations that are treated lightly enough that they never feel pretentious, surprisingly interested in character and more real than any movie I’ve seen of its type in years. If you feel like you haven’t seen a romantic comedy that worked in a long, long time, The Big Sick will make you feel a lot better. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – witty, sweet movie balances comedy & drama beautifully thanks to a smartly written script & an invaluable ensemble; the best rom-com in years, even as it’s also much more than that. 3 ½ stars.