Sundance tends to be a hot bed of indie dramas that deal with heavy subject matter aimed to mercilessly punch you in the gut with intense emotions that will tear your soul apart. The festival balances it out with a smattering of comedies, but there hasn’t been a comedy that has sparked a bidding war that is on track to be one of the biggest deals in the history of the festival. Enter THE BIG SICK. Written by Kumail Nanjiani & Emily V. Gordon and directed by Michael Showalter, the indie rom-com has become the talk of Sundance — and with good reason. Based on the real-life relationship of Nanjiani and Gordon, the film is infected with laughs but at the same time, it will deliver a gut punch of intense emotions that will tear your soul apart — in a good way of course.
Nanjiani stars as a version of himself in the film: an aspiring stand-up comedian who works part-time as an Uber driver. During one of his weekly gigs, he gets “heckled” by Emily (Zoe Kazan). Being the smooth talker he is, Kumail approaches Emily after his set and the two immediately hit off. True to rom-com form, they start a quirky, fun-loving relationship showcased by a musical montage. But the real true test of their relationship is when she needs to do a number 2 in his bathroom and is too embarrassed to do so. What happens after is pure romance.
Things seem to be going well for the two of them, but cultural differences start to fracture their honeymoon period. Kumail’s uber-traditional Pakistani family is pushing him into an arranged marriage to a Pakistani bride and as a result, refuses to them to Emily. But when Emily finds out the real truth and an unexpected sickness enters the picture, their relationship starts to suffer — not to mention Kumail’s relationship with his family and his career as a stand-up comedian.
The Big Sick is Nanjiani’s big moment. Fans familiar with his stand-up and his work on Silicon Valley, were waiting for this moment right along with him — and he delivers. He delivers the hell out of this movie. The script by him and Gordon is not only paved with pitch-perfect, on-brand jokes, but is incredibly personal, making the film’s heart on the same level as the humor.
Without a doubt, Nanjiani can hand out the funny, but audiences may be taken aback by his delivery of drama — particularly in one of the most revealing scenes during one of his gigs that may have you reaching for the tissues. But it all goes back to Nanjiani’s real-life story, which gives this film it’s emotional foundation. It’s a story of an immigrant family, staying true to (or straying away from) tradition, and doing what it takes for the ones you love. Some heavy stuff here…but also Holly Hunter hilariously gets into a bar fight —which brings us to this incredible supporting cast.
Kazan as Emily seems like the perfect match for the real Emily Gordon, while the aforementioned Hunter and Ray Romano play her parents with the perfect amount of neuroses. Adeel Akhtar kills it as Kumail’s brother and hearing Anupam Kher as the Citizens of Humanity jean-wearing dad will give you life.
Despite the need for some editing for length — a signature trait of any Apatow production — Showalter continues to showcase his unique ability and thoughtful care in balancing drama and comedy as he did with Hello, My Name is Doris. That said, The Big Sick has easily become a Sundance darling and many studios have been participating in a bidding Last time we checked Amazon Studios was at the head of the pack, looking to nab the film for a little more than $11 million. More importantly, it’s giving Nanjiani his much-deserved time in the spotlight to tell his authentically heartwarming — and funny as hell — story.
Rated: Not yet rated
Running time: 119 minutes
Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
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Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer