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Review: The Big Sick is a refreshing and remarkable achievement

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan in The Big Sick.

Elevation Pictures

3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
The Big Sick
Written by
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
Directed by
Michael Showalter
Starring
Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

In a summer bereft of original comedies (unless you count Will Ferrell's The House, which wasn't screened for critics this week so I'm just left to assume it is awful and possibly the worst thing ever made), The Big Sick is not only necessary, it's downright revolutionary. Here's a layered, nuanced film whose only goal is to tell a story of real people and real heartache, not to act as a crass marketing plank for a series of hopeful sequels and spinoffs (hi and bye, Baywatch and CHIPS). More than its divorce from the franchise game, though, The Big Sick is refreshing thanks to its on-screen diversity – aside from Master of None, has there ever been a Hollywood product with a brown actor as its romantic lead? – which is wisely played as really not that big of a deal at all. Kumail Nanjiani lets his natural charisma and hilarity carry the movie, which lightly fictionalizes his real-life courtship with co-writer Emily V. Gordon (played here by Zoe Kazan). There's a slightly terrifying twist planted along the pair's path to romance, but it's handled with a deft level of sincerity by director Michael Showalter and the uniformly excellent cast (including a scene-stealing Ray Romano as Gordon's father). Like all Judd Apatow-supervised productions, it's about 10 minutes too long, but that is a small complaint when weighed against Nanjiani and Co.'s remarkable achievement.

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