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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: The Big Sick

September 17th, 2017

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The Big Sick

The Big Sick is the biggest limited release of the year earning over $40 million. This puts it ahead of many wide releases, including Ghost in the Shell, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and King Arthur Legend of the Sword, all of which cost more than $100 million to make. Is this film as good as its box office numbers? Or did it benefit from an historically weak summer?

The Movie

We are first introduced to Kumail Nanjiani, who is a struggling stand-up comic and a part time Uber driver. One night while performing, he asks the crowd if any of them are from Pakistan, and one person, Emily, whoops an affirmative. She’s clearly not Pakistani, so after the show, Kumail confronts her for “heckling” him. (On a side note, I really hate this part of the movie, because it was clearly not heckling. A stand up comic can’t ask for audience participation and then complain when the audience participates. This was part of the Daniel Tosh controversy.) Despite this, and despite Kumail’s bad attempt at flirting (He writes her name in Urdu.) the pair have instant chemistry. They could be the perfect couple, but there’s a problem. Neither are really ready to be in a committed relationship and the two decide to break up immediately. The break up doesn’t last. However, there’s a second problem and this one is more serious. That problem is Kumail’s family.

As Kumail talks about in the opening comedy bit, he grew up in Pakistan, and his family is traditional, so much so his mother, Sharmeen, keeps trying to set up an arranged marriage for him. It’s an arranged marriage, but not a forced one. She’s not forcing him to marry anyone, she is just trying to help him find Mrs. Right. Whenever he goes to their place to eat, a single Pakistani Muslim woman “drops in”. It happens so often that Kumail has turned it into a joke, one that his father, Azmat; his brother, Naveed; and Fatima, Naveed’s wife, all play along with. Each woman brings him a headshot, which seems really weird to me, but he takes it in his stride and keeps them all in a cigar box in his apartment.

The relationship between Kumail and Emily continues to grow, but Kumail has to keep it secret from his parents. He does tell Naveed, who tells him he can’t continue the relationship, or he will be disowned. It doesn’t get to that, because after the relationship begins to get more serious, Emily find’s Kumail’s box of headshots and she realizes there’s no future with Kumail, because Kumail’s family would disown him if he were to marry Emily. He didn’t tell Emily, because he wasn’t interested in getting married, so didn’t see it as a big deal. Emily, on the other hand, realizes they don’t have a future together, so she dumps him.

Not long after that, Kumail gets a phone call in the middle of the night. Emily has the flu and was taken to the hospital. They need someone to be with her and her friends are all in college and have to study. Kumail agrees to go, which annoys Emily to no small degree. However, things take a turn for the worse when it turns out Emily doesn’t have a simple flu and needs to be put into a medically-induced coma. The doctors get Kumail to fill out the permission form and call Emily’s parents. When they arrive, Beth, Emily’s mother, wants Kumail to leave. It turns out Emily told her parents about how the relationship ended and she wants nothing to do with Kumail. Terry, Emily’s father, is more laid back and invites Kumail to eat with them. Slowly they begin to bond over the situation and Kumail realizes he does have strong feelings for Emily.

How good is this movie? I have a simple way of explaining how good this movie is. About 30 minutes into the film, Kumail and Emily are shopping for groceries and Emily is talking about meeting the parents when she hurts her ankle. It was at this point I remembered the movie was called The Big Sick and that Emily getting sick was a major part of the plot. The relationship between Kumail and Emily was so engrossing that I forgot what the movie was about. That’s high praise.

The Big Sick might be the best movie I’ve reviewed all year. Everything about it works, from the overall story, although I feel bad saying that, because it is based on a real story and the real Emily V. Gordon could have died. The chemistry between Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan is incredible and I would watch two or three more movies based on these characters. (Don’t do that. Sequels to comedies rarely do well. Successful romantic comedy sequels are even rarer.) Likewise, I would watch a TV series with Kumail and his family having dinner together, or Kumail hanging out with Beth and Terry. I don’t think there’s a single part of this movie I didn’t enjoy.

... Watching struggling stand up comedy. That made me cringe so hard. However, it is the only part of the movie I won’t enjoy when I watch it for the third time, or the fourth time after that.

The Extras

The extras begin with an audio commentary track featuring one of the producers, Barry Mendel; the co-writer and co-star, Kumail Nanjiani; the co-writer, Emily V. Gordon; and the director, Michael Showalter. A Personal Journey is a 15-minute long making of featurette. The Real Story is a seven-minute look at the real story that the movie is based on. The film was shown at the South by Southwest Film Festival and the 11-minute panel is part of the extras. The Other Stuff is four minutes of outtakes / alternate jokes that were cut from the movie. There are also eight deleted scenes with a total running time of 10 minutes. The Bigger Sick is a ten-minute look at the stand-up / movie tour.

That’s a lot of extras, especially for a limited release.

The Verdict

The Big Sick is an amazing movie and the DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack are loaded with extras. It is easily Pick of the Week material.

Filed under: Video Review, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Ghost in the Shell, The Big Sick, Holly Hunter, Adeel Akhtar, Zoe Kazan, Anupam Kher, Ray Romano, Michael Showalter, Barry Mendel, Shenaz Treasury, Kumail Nanjiani, Zenobia Shroff, Emily V. Gordon