The Big Sick

A couple weeks ago I faced a choice of films to see in theater with my friends.

I could have seen Dunkirk, which is supposed to be powerful, I could have seen Valerian, which is supposed to look astounding, and I could have seen Spider-Man, which was supposed to be Amazing (comic nerds, see what I did there?).  All of these are big budget films meant to be seen on the big screen.

Instead, we saw a romantic comedy.

The Big Sick stars Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, and is written by Kumail Najiani and his wife Emily Gordon. It’s the semi-fictional account of how the two of them met and fell in love.

Of course, if you’ve seen the trailers for it, you know there’s a unique complication thrown into the mix. It’s currently at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and all I can say is, it’s justified.

In no way is this a big budget movie. Nothing about it screams out, “Must be seen on the big screen.” But in no way do I regret my choice. We live in an age where movies have to be bigger and louder and more spectacular to draw people in, otherwise people will wait till it’s on Netflix or pirate it.

And because of this “big and loud” mentality in Hollywood, we end up with nonsense like Transformers more often than not.

Wait…why the hell aren’t they pirating Transformers movies instead? Seriously. How are they worth your money?

Anyway, my point is, I’m glad I watched this movie in the theatre, even though it wasn’t one that screamed for a big screen viewing.  Those other movies I mentioned? They probably don’t need my help (well, seems like Valerian might…). But if you want to see good movies made, you need to pay to see good movies, not wait for them to show up on Netflix or download them.  Just remember that the next time you are choosing

Just try to remember that the next time you are choosing between a small indy film, and the next Transformers.

Anyway, the movie itself. Kumail Nanjiani plays himself, a standup comic looking for his big break while Zoe Kazan plays Emily, a student who comes to one of his shows. They end up dating, all the while Kumail is simultaneously being pressured to be paired with a Pakistani woman.  Emily finds out that it is unlikely Kumail is ever going to go against the pressure his parents are putting on him, and they break up.

In any other rom-com, this would be happening towards the end of the film, just before he realizes his true feelings and chases after her in the airport to beg her to marry him.

Instead, this is near about a third of the way in, because at this point Emily gets sick and is put into a medically induced coma. At which point, Kumail has to deal with Emily’s parents, who are less than warm to him to start with. After all, he’d just broken up with her.

What we have here is a rom-com where the focus is more on the parents than the couple–both Kumail and Emily’s parents. On both sides, Kumail faces resistance or outright rejection regarding the relationship.

So this is an honest and real story about interracial relationships, but one that is very funny as well. Both the leads and the supporting cast are all excellent. Honestly, there isn’t much else to say. If you haven’t seen it in the theatres and it’s still around in your area, you might want to consider checking it out instead of whatever big budget spectacle is vying for your attention.

It’s just a shame that there are a number of good big budget films on offer right now. Where’s a crappy Transformers when you actually need it?

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