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A Film Diary

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Watched: 23 September

The breakthrough comedy hit of the summer, Michael Showalter’s Apatow-produced The Big Sick was written by comedian Kumail Nanjiani (who stars as himself) and writer Emily Gordon (also Nanjiani’s wife), a version of whom is played in the film by Zoe Kazan, an actor I always enjoy watching and who tends to bring a certain edgy charm to romantic movies (I’m thinking of her self-penned Ruby Sparks, primarily). It’s a sharp, funny comedy that mines the couple’s meet-cute and the early stages of their relationship for chuckles really well, and gets plenty of laughs out of the comedy club circuit and Nanjiani’s Pakistani-American family life, too (the running gag involving a number of Pakistani-American women who are deemed to be potential marital matches for the comic is very good, the increasingly-absurd situation stemming from the fact that Nanjiani hasn’t told his parents that he is dating a white woman). The film loses some of its early momentum when Kazan’s character, here named Emily Gardner, falls into a coma, though this gives the film much of its drama and does also bring about the appearance of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents, both of whom are on terrific form. Hunter’s scene in which she takes down a drunk, asshole jock in a comedy club is arguably The Big Sick‘s high point, coming when several of the characters are at their lowest ebbs, their lives seemingly turned inside out. This is a comedy with heart and soul. (***½)

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