Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter
Direction: Michael Showalter
Genre: Romance and Comedy
Duration: 2 hours 10 minutes
We argue, we exchange angry words, and we often don’t see eye to eye but we never give up on one another. Gigantic words like sacrifice and forfeiture are often associated with them! They love you unconditionally even if you don’t follow the career path they hoped you would or marry the boy/girl they thought you should! No,I am not talking in riddles;merely stating a few obvious things that define our relationship with parents!!
The Big Sick weaves a heart-rending tale of everyday mortals like you and me in the guise of Kumail Nanjiani and his screen parents (Zenobia Shroff and Anupam Kher),Zoe Kazan and her screen parents (Ray Romano and Academy award winner, Holly Hunter) and a bunch of beautifully cast co-actors.
Kumail Nanjiani who plays himself is a stand up comedian, gigging mostly in the comedy hangouts in Chicago, waiting for the next big break! While he is not gigging, he works as an Uber driver to support himself. He was transported to the US by his parents from his native Pakistan at age 15 largely as his parents pursued the American Dream to make a better life for themselves and their children. Stereotypical or not, most parents who move to this country from their native lands, dream big for their children, and have towering aspirations for them. As Kumail jokingly points out, the list high bars from Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Hundreds of other jobs, and then at the bottom of the pile is Stand Up Comedians. The measure of success is often through conforming platforms rather than off the beaten track. In the words of Mindy Kaling, “Parents expect you to work hard, be quiet, respect elderly people, respect your parents, and just be unobtrusive”. Kumail’s mom never loses sight of her purpose and is a serial match fixer in the hope he will marry a Pakistani girl and leave his “non” career as a comedian, and like an obedient son, take the LSAT to study law!
The movie is refreshingly honest and real and its intimate narrative is built around the most personal experiences of every character. It navigates deftly between race and stereotype without taking sides. No matter who you are or what race you belong to, you will be able to relate to the plot because relationships and people are not much different at the end. Of all the characters, Holly Hunter delivers the finest performance. She is in great form, it’s through and through vintage Holly Hunter!
Holly Hunter and Ray Romano (of “I am Raymond” fame) are parents of Emily who come rushing from North Carolina (ahh yes:)) to Chicago as their daughter is in a medically induced coma for a rare lung infection. By the time Emily is hospitalized, Kumail and Emily have already broken up due to Kumail’s cowardice of owning up to his parents about his relationship with Emily and invoking their wrath. As callous as he is with Emily when he breaks up with her, he changes (not in an earth shattering way) but slowly and convincingly as he realizes she is the real thing and he is in love with her!
The most tender moments of the movie comes from Kumail’s relationship with Emily’s parents so in a sense it can’t be just relegated to a rom-com genre! In the beginning Beth (Holly Hunter) is distant and cold with him because she perceives him as a coward but that all changes one evening when she realizes it’s not easy when you are a brown Muslim kid, trying to get into a domain where you open yourself to situations that can inflict emotional damage on you. That scene had tears free-falling on my face and the next instant laughing away, as Beth jumps to his defense, like a lioness, as surely only a mom can!
This is the work of a bunch of magicians who created something extraordinary out of nothing! In terms of cross-over movies, this is one of the finest I have seen. It takes you to the next realm of movie-making, where director Michael Showalter build something that is zero pretense and devoid of excesses. It is the rare movie that leaves a mark on you. Shot on an extremely low budget, the movie has only a couple of armors in its possession- A great line up of actors and a tight script. It is a delight to see good acting, tight editing, and an engaging script triumph over special effects, exotic locations, glitz and glamor, and all the razzmatazz!
It leaves you with Zoe Kazan’s lingering wistful smile, Kumail’s twinkling eyes, and Holly Hunter’s feisty mom avatar.
Please share your feedback with me. I would love to hear your voice and opinion, even if it differs from me :). If you like my reviews enough, do share it on you social media platforms.