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Romantic comedy 'The Big Sick' has a big heart

Romantic comedy 'The Big Sick' has a big heart

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Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Pakistani-American comic in Chicago who just wants to get enough laughs to have a shot at a career. One night at a comedy club, he encounters Emily (Zoe Kazan), a young woman who clearly finds him interesting — so much so that they wind up spending a lot of time together.

Although neither of them is willing to say it out loud, they’re falling in love. But Kumail has a big reason not to introduce Emily to his family: His mom (Zenobia Shroff) and dad (Anupam Kher) are devout Muslims who expect him to agree to an arranged marriage. In fact, whenever Kumail takes part in a family dinner, another potential bride drops by.

As reluctant as he may be to admit it, Emily is the one for him. But something happens that neither of them could have anticipated: She becomes seriously ill. Kumail finds himself whiling away the hours in a hospital waiting room, in the company of two people he would rather have met under more pleasant circumstances: Emily’s empathetic dad, Terry (Ray Romano), and her hostile mom, Beth (Holly Hunter).

There’s no telling when the wait will end. Emily is in a medically induced coma.

If you’re a fan of Nanjiani — who co-stars in HBO’s “Silicon Valley” — you’ll like “The Big Sick.” A comedy-drama that he co-wrote with wife Emily V. Gordon, it’s a frequently hilarious byproduct of their real-life relationship. But the Sundance Film Festival hit is also more than a bit self-indulgent and way too long.

Perhaps director Michael Showalter (“Hello, My Name Is Doris”) was so respectful of the material that he declined to make judicious snips. As it is, he elicits terrific performances — particularly from Romano, who delivers a funny yet deeply felt portrait of one man’s middle-age angst.

“The Big Sick” has a lot of charm. Just don’t expect the revolution in romantic comedy that its aggressive hype would suggest.


What “The Big Sick” • 3½ stars out of four • Run time 1:59 • Rating R • Content Language and sexual references

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