Movies: The Big Sick

I'd been hearing about this movie on various podcasts for a while, but I'd never been in the right mood or frame of mind to watch it. Until last night.

There's a certain kind of movie—almost always indie or small studio pics—that bill themselves as "comedy" but aren't really that funny. I think they're using an older definition of "comedy," the one that says things end happy rather than sad. In other words, if it's not an all-out tragedy, it's a comedy. Kind of. Like, if you have to pick between the two masks, this movie is the laughing one more than the crying one, right?

Still, while it definitely has its funny moments, this isn't, you know, what some people think of as comedy. It tends toward melodrama. It's what some call "dramedy." And that's fine, but it's not the same as a comedy.

All this may make it sound like I didn't like the movie. But I did! I actually liked it quite a lot. It's one of the few I've seen that lives up to all the hype I've heard. Kumail Nanjiani is incredibly personable (both in this movie and in interviews); it's impossible not to like him, even when he's being a jerk in the film. You honestly want him to do well. You cringe for him when [mild spoiler] his comedy set bombs. You feel for him when he finds himself caught between his family and the girl he's fallen in love with. His interactions with everyone—his family, his girlfriend's family, his fellow comedians—it's all so natural and unaffected, very enjoyable to watch.

Okay, so for those who don't know, the movie is about Kumail falling in love with a girl named Emily. Meanwhile, his Pakistani family keeps trying to set him up with a good Muslim girl to marry. When Emily finds out Kumail hasn't even told his family about her, and when he can't commit to a future with her, she breaks up with him. Next thing Kumail knows, he's receiving a call to say Emily is in the hospital. He goes there and meets her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, both in fabulous form). Hilarity doesn't exactly ensue, though there are definite pulses of it.

If anything, the character of Emily is the weak link. Maybe because she's in a coma for a big chunk of the movie, but honestly, when she was awake I found her a tad annoying. I didn't 100% buy the attraction between her and Kumail. But that's a small thing in the overall scheme. That may sound strange considering this is, in some aspect, a romantic movie. And I think if Emily had been conscious for the entire film, it wouldn't have worked because her shrillness would have ruined things. But as things stand, it's livable.

In short, this is a really cute movie. It's drama punctuated with laughter. There's a little bit of tragedy, too. The whole thing is a stew, really—a tasty one.

No comments: