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“The Big Sick” is one of the year’s best films so far

We’re reaching the point in the year where some top notch counter programming is about to be released. In fact, today we get one of 2017’s best films overall in The Big Sick. This movie is a supremely entertaining romantic comedy that quickly reveals itself to be much more than just that. At the beginning, it’s a Judd Apatow production through and through, and one of his better ones (among the ones he’s just produced). Then, about halfway in, it takes a right turn that separates it from the pack. Before that, it still would be quality entertainment, but this second half makes it damn near awards worthy. Yes, this movie is just that good.

Once again, here is a quick summation for The Big Sick. This film is based on the real life relationship between Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. We’re introduced to the latter as Kumail (Nanjiani playing himself) is toiling as a struggling stand up. When he’s heckled in the crowd by Emily (Zoe Kazan), an instant spark is there. Neither wants to commit to anything serious, but neither can deny the chemistry they share. At the same time, Kumail is dealing with an endless parade of Pakistani women that his mother Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) is inviting over for the dinner, in the hopes of an arranged marriage. That pressure eventually spills over and ends things for Emily and Kumail, but when the former winds up in the hospital, it’s Kumail who has to sign papers putting her in a medically induced coma. Emily’s parents Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter) then arrive, ready to send their daughter’s ex on his way. Something in him tells him to stay though, and as Emily fights for her life, Kumail gets to know Beth and Terry, seeing an influence on Emily that he never realized. I won’t say where it goes, but considering the real life people are pretty public about things, you should be able to guess. Michael Showalter directs a script that Gordon and Nanjiani co-wrote together. Also in the cast are Adeel Akhtar, Kurt Braunohler, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Anupam Kher, and more. The aforementioned Apatow produces.

This movie is just tremendously good. I actually saw the movie over a month ago and really loved it. Not only do Kazan and Nanjiani have a sparkling chemistry, Hunter and Romano take things to the next level when they arrive. Hunter is equally funny and emotive, while Romano is the same, but in a wholly unexpected way. He might actually be best in show overall. Showalter is able to take Gordon and Nanjiani’s script, which in many ways reflects the sort of Apatow production we’ve grown to know and love, and shepherds it along nicely. As funny as this flick is, it’s also very moving. The emotion and the laughs stand tall together in a nearly perfect mixture.

Awards wise, The Big Sick is a definite X factor. Depending on how it does at the box office, I could see Amazon Studios launching a targeted campaign during the precursors. It deserves to be considered in Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Romano), Best Supporting Actress (for Hunter or Kazan), and Best Original Screenplay (for Gordon and Nanjiani) especially. Best Actor (for Nanjiani) and Best Actress (for Kazan) might be long shots, though deserved, with Best Director (for Showalter) likely just wishful thinking. This is a film of the highest quality though, so hopefully it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle by the time the fall awards season kicks into gear.

Starting today, audiences looking for the best romantic comedy in a long time can scratch that itch with The Big Sick. It offers so much more though, and that’s what sets it apart. This is about as good as 2017 cinema gets right now. Right up there with The Hero and Logan as the class of the year so far, this is a must see. Gordon and Nanjiani have penned one of the most original movies in some time, even if it’s based on their real life. In telling that tale, they’ve crafted something universal. Seeing is believing here, so it’s not to be missed…

Be sure to check out The Big Sick, beginning its theatrical run on a platform release basis right now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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