Review: The Big Sick charms you in a way most rom-coms can’t, by focusing on characters.

Sometimes reality is better than fiction, and the real story of how a coma brought two people together makes you laugh your way through the many tears you’ll shed during this film.

I’m not a big fan of the romantic-comedy genre. Every film follows the same story, and generally with the same pace. A man and a woman meet in the first act, everything is fantastic and love is grant during the second act. Then in the first few minutes of the third act they break up, try to reconcile and finally end up together by the end.

This is to say I was excited when I first watched the trailer for The Big Sick, written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.

Based on their real-life story, a boy – Pakistan-born comedian Kumail (Nanjiani) – meets a girl – white grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan) –. The girl falls into a coma and the boy has to navigate the medical crisis with the girl’s parents, who he’s never met before, while dealing with his family who are dead set on him marrying a Pakistani girl. You know, the usual.

Right from the start you notice how much chemistry there is between Kumail and Emily, and you become instantly enamoured with the pair. You buy into their relationship as something genuine, which is more than I can say for many recent rom-coms.

By the end of The Big Sick, you’ll feel like you’ve known Kumail and Emily your whole life.

The biggest compliment I can give The Big Sick is that it’s believable. The relationships in the film are authentic and the chemistry is pure. Whether it’s in the scenes where Kumail fights with his brother about not wanting to grow a beard, or Kumail joking around with his comedian friends, or the way Holly Hunter and Ray Romano make a more believable marriage than many real ones.

In a film where one of your two main actors leaves for most of the film, you need some very good replacements. The Big Sick found the best in Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Beth and Terry, Emily’s parents.

As soon as Holly Hunter enters the movie, the entire dynamic changes. She energizes every scene she’s in. Beth is a more complex woman than meets the eye and Hunter is up for the challenge in one of her best performances. Whether she’s fighting with her husband, insulting a racist guy at a comedy club, or just being a loving mother, she becomes the center of attention. And she’s hilarious while doing so.

Not to be left behind, Ray Romano gives a strong and hilarious performance as Terry, the man who has to put up with Beth, and his own past sins. It is Terry who gets the film’s biggest laugh and has fantastic on-screen chemistry with both Hunter and Nanjiani. Every time Terry is left alone with Kumail, your lungs will hurt of how much you’re laughing, and Romano plays Terry like the type of dad who tries to share some deep wisdom without realizing he’s just saying nonsense. Can somebody give those two a sitcom?

Not to be left behind, Bo Burnham and Aidy Bryant are also hilarious as Kumail’s comedian friends CJ and Mary.

Those who might think that rom-coms can’t have good cinematography are very wrong. The Big Sick might not be a big budget film, but Brian Burgoyne shoots the film almost like a documentary, and gets you inside the room as if you are a part of the film.

The Big Sick understands that life isn’t just funny, or just sad. Throughout the film we see a lot of serious, dramatic scenes. But even as Emily falls into a medically induced coma, there are plenty of jokes and genuinely funny scenes.

At the center of it all is Kumail. Kudos to him for not only writing a film as personal as The Big Sick, but for acting in it and having to pretend that these actors are the people he loves. This is truly the best performance of his career so far, and he proves he’s more than the deadpan funny guy from that sitcom you love. He’s great during the scenes he has to confront the gravity of his situation, and he also has great comedic timing during the scenes where he makes us laugh.

If there is one word that can perfectly describe The Big Sick is “lovely”. This is truly a lovely film that makes you laugh and cry, and also makes you feel like you know these characters as well as you know your friends.

Grade: Opening Night

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