“… thought that some parts were a little too self-serving […] and instead of helping the plot they were just there as a kind of happy memory…”
So I finally got around to watching The Big Sick and I liked it, but I don’t think I liked it as much as everyone else did. For those who don’t know The Big Sick is a true story about Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon. The story revolves around how the couple met, broke up, and then it follows Kumail as he struggles with the fact that Emily has grown very sick and is now in a coma. The film is mainly about Kumail’s feelings, and his relationship with Emily’s parents, but as a whole it is a touching love-letter to this couple’s past.
Right off the bat I want to say that I love everything about The Big Sick individually. A true story written by the two people who were a part of it? Great. A movie that manages to blend drama and comedy? Amazing. Ray Romano? Brilliant. The problem I had with The Big Sick is that when all of these pieces came together, some kind of felt out of place. The first thing I want to hit on is the film’s length. The Big Sick clocks in at about two hours, and you feel every minute of it. This movie did not need to be 2 hours, and in fact I think it would have been better off if 30 minutes (give or take) were removed. So what’s wrong with the pacing? Well, what I’m about to say may sound callous but hear me out. The main issue with The Big Sick is that it is a very personal story, written by the two people who were involved. This means that instead of cutting things for something like pacing issues, the attitude leans a lot more toward keeping everything because “it’s all so special”. Now don’t get me wrong, I fucking love that this movie was made, I think it is a very beautiful story and I’m glad I got to experience it, but I just think that the project was a bit too close to those involved. I understand that if you make a movie, you can do whatever you want with it, but I just think that some things could have been removed. But as it stands The Big Sick seems kind of like a walk down memory lane for Nanjiani and Gordon, which is fine in theory but you definitely feel it when you’re sitting in the theatre. To go into more detail on this point, I felt the beginning was too drawn-out. Kumail and Emily meet, and then there is what feels like an hour of movie before the “plot” starts. Once again, this felt more like a way for them to kind of show off (for lack of a better term), because there really wasn’t too much going on. Actually, there was stuff going on, but I’ll get to that later. The middle of the movie is where the real meat is. Kumail is spending time with Emily’s parents, and this portion is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Unfortunately the ending kind of regresses and once again takes a long time to get to the point. God, everything I type seems so personal because I know that this is a true story. Anyway, the film is never actually boring, but I will say that the runtime is definitely noticeable during a few points.
Going back to what I really liked about the film, I already mentioned the drama/comedy but what I didn’t mention was the whole “arranged marriage” storyline. This is both a highpoint, and a low-point of the movie for me and I’ll explain both. First of all I found the arranged marriage plot line to be very unique, as I haven’t seen it done before. I mean, I know arranged marriages exist but Ive never seen a “rom com” use that tradition as a plot-line. This was very entertaining and also an interesting look at other cultures. Unfortunately this also comes with a con, and that is the fact that this plot line made the film feel a bit bloated at times. A girlfriend being in a coma is a great idea for a rom com (also a great song). A man who is trying to fight an arranged marriage is a great idea for a rom com. Both together makes for a rather busy story in my opinion. I will say that both of these ideas played together well, and they both fit with Kumail’s character, but I can say that if one of these plot lines were cut (or at least toned down) the film probably would have felt a lot more succinct. Apart form that I really liked the blend of comedy and drama in the film. I felt that all of the dialogue, while being hilarious, was also very realistic. I thought that the film did a good job of knowing when to let comedy take the wheel, but it never kicked drama out of the car (that analogy sounded a lot better in my head). When drama took over, it took over hard. I didn’t cry while watching The Big Sick, but I definitely felt something tugging at my heartstrings. And all of this comedy and drama was brought to life by the film’s brilliant performances. On one side you have all of the great stand-up comedians in the film, who were really great to see, but you also have some very surprising performances from a few cast members. First of all Ray Romano really fucking brought it. In his role as Emily’s dad you could really feel the emotion that his character was dealing with. And once again this felt very realistic because his emotion/anger felt a lot more helpless than that of Holly Hunter’s, who played Emily’s mom. As Emily’s mom Holly Hunter consistently made her presence known on screen, and that fit well with her “in your face” style of grieving. She wants her daughter to be better, and she will berate every single person until she can find someone who can make that happen. And the absolute show-stealer was Kumail Nanjiani himself. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think much of Kumail before I saw this film. Yeah I knew he worked with Nerdist, and I was familiar with his role on Silicon Valley, but I just thought he was your run-of-the-mill comedian. Turns out, this dude has some real acting chops. There isn’t really one moment that sold me on him, but I left the theatre a changed man; by that I mean my opinion of Kumail Nanjiani had changed. That’s what that saying means, right? And just to quickly bring this up because I don’t have much to say, I rally liked the direction of The Big Sick. Nothing really stood out to me until one scene that had Kumail in the centre of frame and Emily’s parents of either side of him, but after that I started to notice that the way all of the shots were composed was really pleasant. Again, I don’t have much to say on this front other than a “good job!” to Michael Showalter.
Overall The Big Sick is movie that I liked, but not one that I loved. The story was beautiful, I loved the mix of drama and comedy, and I though the performances were brilliant, but I also thought that some parts were a little too self-serving (once again, for lack of a better term) and instead of helping the plot they were just there as a kind of happy memory for Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.
I give The Big Sick a B