The Big Sick

119 Minutes/ Rated R
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter


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A Pakistani-American stand-up comedian falls for an American woman, despite the fact that his family wants him to consent to an arranged marriage with someone from his own culture.

Romantic comedy 'The Big Sick' has a big heart

• 3½ stars out of four •

Calvin Wilson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Pakistani-American comic in Chicago who just wants to get enough laughs to have a shot at a career. One night at a comedy club, he encounters Emily (Zoe Kazan), a young woman who clearly finds him interesting — so much so that they wind up spending a lot of time together. As reluctant as he may be to admit it, Emily is the one for him. But something happens that neither of them could have anticipated: She becomes seriously ill. Kumail finds himself whiling away the hours in a hospital waiting room, in the company of two people he would rather have met under more pleasant circumstances: Emily’s empathetic dad, Terry (Ray Romano), and her hostile mom, Beth (Holly Hunter). If you’re a fan of Nanjiani — who co-stars in HBO’s “Silicon Valley” — you’ll like “The Big Sick.” A comedy-drama that he co-wrote with wife Emily V. Gordon, it’s a frequently hilarious byproduct of their real-life relationship. 

Perhaps director Michael Showalter (“Hello, My Name Is Doris”) was so respectful of the material that he declined to make judicious snips. As it is, he elicits terrific performances — particularly from Romano, who delivers a funny yet deeply felt portrait of one man’s middle-age angst.

“The Big Sick” has a lot of charm. Just don’t expect the revolution in romantic comedy that its aggressive hype would suggest.

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