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One Movie Punch

Jan 7, 2018

Welcome to Oscar Season!

The nominations period opened up last Friday, January 5th. Members of the Academy have one week to submit their nominations, which will be tallied and presented to the public on Tuesday, January 23rd. This past year has had some incredible movies and I hope to review as many as possible prior to the big reveal on Sunday, March 4th.

In that spirit, today’s movie is “The Big Sick” (2017), the amazing romantic comedy based on the lives of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, brought to life by director Michael Showalter. I can honestly say this is the best romantic comedy I have ever seen, a nearly perfect film in every way.

We start with Kumail Nanjiani, a struggling comedian working to earn a place at the Montreal Comedy Festival. During his set, Kumail gets heckled by Emily Gardner (played by Zoe Kazan). Kumail talks to her after the show and they have an immediate spark, leading to a series of dates and eventually a strong relationship.

Meanwhile, Kumail is fending off multiple attempts by his family to arrange a marriage with a Pakistani woman, in line with the culture they brought to America from Pakistan. Kumail knows that revealing his relationship with Emily would upset his family, so he struggles with keeping the two worlds separate.

Emily learns about Kumail’s family after discovering multiple photos of the attempted arrangements. Once Emily sees that Kumail is struggling to choose between her and his family, she leaves him. And then suddenly... Kumail receives a call from one of Emily’s friends, saying that Emily is in the emergency room, and wondered if he would go see her.

The film ends up having three distinct parts: the relationship prior to “the big sick”, the period during “the big sick”, and the period after “the big sick”. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano enter the second act as Emily’s parents, struggling to get up to speed about their daughter’s condition, and awkwardly interacting with Kumail, since her parents knew they had broken up, and the reasons why. Both give stellar performances. Ray Romano in particular should receive a best supporting actor nomination.

The script packs in so much. Emily and Kumail’s relationship. Kumail’s struggles with his family and their traditions. Emily’s sickness. The awkward relationship with your partner’s parents. Kumail’s experience as a Muslim in America. The terrible realities of the stand-up comedy world. Everything that went into the script was woven together incredibly, punctuated by the most well-timed awkward comedy I’ve seen in a long time, which had me moving between laughter and tears. 

Rotten Tomatoes: 98% (CERTIFIED)

Metacritic: 86/100

One Movie Punch: 9.6

I know what you’re saying. 9.6? What happened to the other 0.4? This film was so good that it left me wanting more, and I am unsure if a sequel would work. But I do know that if any writing team could pull it off, it would be Emily and Kumail, and I will amend my review accordingly!

Hats off to both of you for sharing your story.

“The Big Sick” (2017) is rated R and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.