I do admit I’m not one hundred per cent in love with its name, but The Big Sick is a pretty darn funny and worthwhile comedy film.
I saw the trailer before it first came to theaters, and I thought this comedy about a cross-cultural love story complicated by disease looked at least fairly promising. After it came out on DVD, I happened upon its script online, and I loved the script so much that I told my husband he had to watch it with me.
The film opens with main character Kumail doing a standup comedy routine that involves some jokes about his Pakistani background and the cultural clashes his family faces in America.
And it turns out that much of the film’s main conflict comes from that clash of cultures, as his parents determinedly cling the way of life they know from their home country, while Kumail himself leans toward wanting to live like a typical American. This gets to be a real problem when his parents’ continual attempts to arrange a marriage for him get in the way of his love life.
Because he has no interest whatsoever in an arranged marriage, and in fact, despite complications in both their lives, he is falling for a white, totally American girl whom he met after one of his comedy sets. But the real test of his love for her happens when she gets sick. Big sick, like in a coma.
It’s Kind of a Strange Movie…
It doesn’t quite follow the typical structure of most movies (character discovers he has an issues, character fights against that issue, and then character overcomes said issue).
Instead, it seems to be divided into the initial love story in the beginning, fraught with problems but fun and cute nonetheless; and the part where she’s sick and he begins to unexpectedly bond with her parents (played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter). On paper, I think it sounds kind of weird.
But It Works
It’s hilarious, for one. Such tight, good jokes and writing that it made me jealous as a writer, as I read and watched it.
The acting is top notch as well. I think Ray Romano is perfect as her father, with just the right amount of awkwardness to make it even funnier.
The movie also seems to try to say something pretty good about family. *Minor spoiler: His parents disapprove so heartily of the way he’s choosing to live that they want to disown him. A lot of people would say, “Fine then,” and walk away. But instead, this guy fights for his familial relationships and won’t let himself be kicked out that easily. *End minor spoiler.
And then the love story. It is pretty sweet (despite having some moral issues at its start — more on that below), and it’s made sweeter by knowing that it’s true. Kumail is real, the writer and star. The script was written by him and his wife, based on their true story. Now the girl co-starring in it is in fact an actress and not his wife, so it’s not quite as, “Awe!”-ish as like the A Quiet Place couple I’m loving so much right now, but it’s still pretty cool.
Though Not Without it’s Faults…
I think my husband and I both morally squirmed a little at the start of their relationship, because it begins with what they think will be a one-night-stand. You do hate to see that passed off as being something that can turn into an amazing love story, because, let’s be honest, that’s pretty much not how it ever typically works in real life.
The good news, though, is that despite this morally rocky start near the beginning of the movie, there are no actual on-screen sex scenes. Nothing shown or heard, though there is some occasional sexual dialogue.
It’s rated R, partially for that sexual dialogue, and probably mostly for the language — quite a few F words here.
The one other issue I had with it is kind of small, but it’s worth mentioning. Kumail, in his quest to live like everyone else in his current country, has grown away from the Muslim religion and at one point admits that he’s not sure what he believes, that he doesn’t actually pray anymore. Part of me cringes a little at this, because even though as Catholics we believe obviously that Islam isn’t the truth, his sloppiness and apparent lack of care in the matter chafes a little — trying to do your best in a misguided religion I’d say would be better than not caring about religion at all. Probably a small issue, but I definitely wished it would have made religion seem more important than some mere cultural thing your parents might care about.
Over All, a Good Choice
It’s a pretty enjoyable two hours. It’s a uniquely formatted story, and really there aren’t too many films like it out there that I can think of. Despite its faults, it’s hilariousness and sweetness make it a strong choice.