At last, a Judd Apatow production that doesn't leave me restless!
Comic geniuses/writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon have joined Michael Showalter, the filmmaker behind last year's splendid Hello, My Name Is Doris, to deliver one of the finest romantic dramedies in recent years. The Big Sick plays like Don't Think Twice (the best comedy of 2016) meets Love Story (one of the most maudlin films of all-time)...and thankfully falls a lot closer to the former than the latter in quality.
Based on his real-life courtship with Gordon, Nanjiani portrays a Pakistan-born comic who meets and falls for Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his shows. Their relationship flourishes for some time, that is before his refusal to acknowledge the relationship to his traditional Muslim parents leaves Emily skeptical of her place in Kumail's future. She ends the relationship just before tragedy strikes - Emily falls ill, is hospitalized and soon placed into a medically induced coma.
Despite their split, Kumail is determined to remain by her side...and then Emily's parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) show up. While her folks initially give Kumail a rather chilly reception, their mutual affection for and distress over Emily slowly but surely bring them together.
The Big Sick pulls off a remarkable balancing act, drawing big, well-earned laughs and tugging at the heartstrings in a way that isn't nauseatingly manipulative. The cast is all-around marvelous - Nanjiani and Kazan make for an enchanting and convincing team; this is perhaps Hunter's best performance since Living Out Loud in 1998 (keep an eye on this four-time nominee during Oscar season); and Romano has never, ever been this good. Also, all of the actors portraying Nanjiani's family are dead-on perfection.
Even if this proves one hell of a year at the cinema, The Big Sick will undoubtedly go down as one of the finest of 2017.