Wednesday, July 05, 2017

THE BIG SICK -- My review

Thank you, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon! Thank you for proving that romcoms can be funny, touching, and timely. Thank you for showing that romcoms don’t have to be Nancy Meyer studio formula clich├ęs or idiotic raunchfests. And thank you, Michael Showalter for emphasizing the truth and reality of the situation in your direction and letting the comedy rise organically.

THE BIG SICK also may be the first romantic comedy I’ve ever seen where the young couple never actually says “I love you.”  But you know for sure that they do. 

If I have one complaint, and the same I have with every movie Judd Apatow is involved with – it’s too fucking long. You could so easily cut twenty minutes out of this film and lose nothing. The audience is so far ahead of you on numerous occasions. I just never understand the resistance to cutting when you can take a lovely B+ movie and turn it into a home run A with a few more judicious trims. And don’t say every moment is needed. Like I said, I could cut twenty minutes with absolute ease.   There's an old saying in the theater (that's true): Cut twenty minutes and run two years longer.

Still, the movie is filled with charm. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan have that intangible ingredient that makes romcoms work – chemistry. You so love them together. You so want them to be together. You’re so thankful it’s not Amy Schumer trying to go legit.

The story stems from the real life incident that happened to Kumail and his real life wife (and co-writer), Emily Gordon. She was put in a medically induced coma.   So I guess that section of script Kumail wrote by himself.  Note to Emily:  there are easier ways to come up with movie premises. 

The film wonderfully depicts the culture clash between Kumail’s Pakistani family and customs and Emily’s North Carolina background. Both of the couples’ parents almost steal the movie. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are fantastic. And Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff match them scene for scene.

Bottom line: It’s just a pleasure to see a movie about real people having genuine emotions, where the comedy comes out of character and is funny and the heartfelt moments are earned. Go see THE BIG SICK. It does for romcoms what Wonder Woman did for the Allied Powers in World War I.

15 comments :

Peter said...

Wasn't planning on seeing this but your enthusiastic review now makes me want to see it.

I don't have a problem with raunchy comedies. My pet hate is comedies that have tons of pointless pop culture references and portray black characters as tired stereotypes. *COUGH Paul Feig COUGH*

VP81955 said...

Last week, I wrote a Carole & Co. entry on "The Big Sick" (which I have yet to see, though I plan to) based on one critic's comment that it follows an Apatow tradition of late -- a romantic comedy where the female role is largely subjugated: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/864963.html.

Elf said...

I've seen many similar comments about how The Big Sick is too long, and I disagree. I like that it's leisurely, never tedious, and gives each character enough time to develop so you can understand their point of view. Without giving anything away, we've got three movies in one here: The meet cute, the disaster and the recovery. We need a lot of time to see how the relationship develops and crumbles, otherwise we won't give a crap when Emily goes into the coma. The second act is where Kumail really finds himself and the third is the resolution, that if anything, I'd liked to have seen more of. There were some scenes in the comedy club that could perhaps have been shortened, but I think it helped define Kumail's world and what's important to him.

Y. Knott said...

World War II, surely!

cd1515 said...

Friday question: have you seen or can you review the Hulu show "Casual"?
I think it's great but it also seems to fit your description of "no big laughs, just a lot of grins."
Would like to hear a comedy pro's view of it.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Compared to other Apatow-attached Romcom productions this one is a Laurel & Hardy short.

Big Sick is 119 minutes.
The Five-Year Engagement 124
Bridesmaids 125
Trainwreck 129
KnockedUp 129
This is 40 134

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

VP81955. I read your post.
You are so right when you say that movies aren't made for general audiences.
Unfortunately, neither are TV shows.

Very few shows can be watched by a whole family from 8-80 (or even 10-100) and all sexes.
That's why shows like American Idol, the Voice did so well.

Peter said...

This Is 40 was 134 minutes??! Yeesh. Glad I gave that a miss.

Comedies should never be more 100 minutes max. Only comedies that are combined with another genre, i.e. action comedies, sci-fi comedies etc, are justified in being 2 hours.

On a different topic, can't wait to see the new Spider-Man. The reviews have been almost unanimously positive and they all mention it's very funny. Plus it's got the legendary Michael Keaton as the villain, which is why I'm looking forward to it. His bad guy performances are always a kick to watch.

Taylor C said...

Saw it last week and loved it. This was a fairly breezy 2hr 15m comedy, at least for me, because of the strength of the acting and writing involved. If anything, I feel like this film is an referendum for Judd Apatow on how pace his comedies. The Big Sick felt like every scene was essential to the plot, whereas Apatow films always feel like he's too much in love with the footage to make any sizeable cuts.

Cap'n Bob said...

Now I'm confused. How does a 119-minute movie run 2 hours and 15 minutes?

And Y. Knott: Wonder Woman takes place in WWI, the war to end all wars.

DBA said...

Y Knott, Wonder Woman takes place during WWI, not WWII. The film is set in 1918.

I actually saw both Wonder Woman and The Big Sick yesterday, back to back. Enjoyed them both for completely different reasons. Both could've been shorter, although with The Big Sick I didn't really mind, and it didn't drag. WW definitely could've cut at least 20 minutes, but even getting rid of 10 would've probably been enough to make me not really notice the length.

David P said...

Just back from a preview (doesn't officially hit screens here for another week). Loved every minute. (And love that the 9/11 joke in the trailer doesn't give away the best part of the joke).

I agree that the length is necessary to establish characters; it doesn't feel rushed. Too many comedies seem to think "OMG! It's been 35 seconds without a pratfall or joke!".

Think of it as a cross between "East is East" and "While You Were Sleeping", with a pinch of backstage from the Montreal Just for Laughs comedy festival.

ChipO said...

When the writer screws up, surely someone in the cast notices the misstatement - yes?
But, not in Baby Driver. (not a spoiler, just a spoiled watcher who caught a glaring misstatement)
Kevin Spacey is giving directions for getting around Atlanta and says: "Then you'll be on THE Buford Highway."
California sticks THE in front of freeway numbers for good reason. But the rest of the country does not, for the same good reasons. Buford Highway is a major Atlanta area thoroughfare which connects Atlanta and Buford (roughly ne of Atlanta). I never, ever heard anyone put a THE in front of any non-Californian highway, and definitely not Buford Highway.
So, (finally) the question to Ken: WTF? Why didn't someone, anyone, in the cast, crew, etc. say: "Hey you provincial Southern Californian writing team, there is no THE in Buford Highway"? Does that opportunity exist?
(ps - the movie isn't worth Ken's time to review)

Y. Knott said...

Ah, my mistake then. Haven't seen the new movie. Thought Wonder Woman was identified with WWII? Ah, well....

(Probably won't ever see the movie in any case, as I don't enjoy superhero movies of any stripe. Clearly it's just me, but I find them boring. I've tried several...I just fall asleep, usually in under twenty minutes.)

David P said...

Just had a moment of epiphany. Part of the reason the film is successful is that Nanjiani is smart enough to know when to go the full Newhart - play the straight man and let other people get the laughs. He's a generous performer. Too many other comedies written by comedians go the other way - people wanting to prove "See! I am funny!"

It's quite a refreshing change.