The Big Sick

First Hit: I really liked the story but the acting by the main character didn't stand up when compared with the rest of the cast.

This is a wonderful, real relationship, story between Kumail Nanjiani (played himself) and Emily Gordon (played in the film by Zoe Kazan). The unfortunate part is that Kumail wasn’t very engaging to watch. There were times it felt like he was a deer in headlights. Granted this may be the way he is but it doesn’t work for film. It was like he was amature playing with pros.

Kazan (as Emily) was amazing. Her quirkiness and direct dialogue was a perfect foil for Kumail’s poorly timed lightweight jokes and kidding way. Emily meets Kumail after she watches one of his comedy shows. As a struggling comedian in Chicago he gets small five minute segments at a comedy club along with his roommate and comedian friends. He and Emily seem to hit it off during the conversation and next thing you know they are staying the night at his house.

As a Pakistani, Kumail’s family wants him to marry a Pakistani Muslim so his mother, Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) continues to bring by women for him to court and marry. He doesn’t like them. Although the reasons why were obvious on the screen, there was one woman that was presented to him at dinner that made me wonder if it was because his mother introduced him that turned him off because she appeared interesting and someone he could get to know.

Both Emily and Kumail tell each other they are not looking for a permanent relationship and don’t want to see each other more than two nights in a row. However, their relationship grows quickly.

Kumail doesn’t tell his family about Emily and this backfires on him because Emily believes that Kumail has been honest with her. Because of this riff they have a horrible breakup and shortly thereafter she gets very sick. She's rushed to the hospital and one of her friends calls Kumail and asks him to go to the hospital to support Emily. Because she’s extremely sick with an unidentified infection and could die, he signs a form allowing the hospital to put Emily in an induced coma.

Afterwards, he calls her parents Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano respectively) who make the trip from North Carolina to stay with their daughter in the hospital. The dialogue and scenes between the three of them while they hold vigil over Emily are funny and pointed. Like when Terry asks Kumail about how he felt about 9/11. Or, at the comedy club as Kumail is doing standup, when Beth sticks up for Kumail as a heckler attacks him. The scenes between the three of them are great mostly because of Hunter and Romano.

Emily eventually recovers and indignantly asks Kumail why he’s at the hospital after he hurt her so badly. In two of these scenes, I found Kumail's character (himself) to be rather benign and lacked real passion. This may be his real self, but for a film character, it had me question his love towards Emily.

All’s well that ends well and because Kumail and Emily co-wrote this film we know they get together in the end.

Nanjiani didn’t come across as strong. At times, I didn’t believe that he actually went through this experience although it's own story. He may do stand-up comedy and write for comedians but it doesn’t mean he can be a big screen actor. Kazan was wonderful. She is so expressive and fills the screen when she’s in the scene. Hunter was fantastic as Emily’s mother. Her movement from disliking Kumail to supporting and defending him was wonderful. Romano was a revelation. I loved his character. When he said “… I was hoping that if I talked something smart would come out…”, I busted a gut. It was a great line. Shroff was excellent as Kumail’s mother. Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani wrote an excellent script. Michael Showalter did an excellent job directing this story.

Overall: I really liked this film and felt the only downside was the lead actor.