As I started to sit down and watch “The Big Sick,” I was surprised to know it was based on the true story of how comedian Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) met his wife Emily V. Gordon. He also wrote it with her, and he does a fabulous job playing himself with the right kind of intentions.
Kumail, an up and coming comedian and Uber driver in Chicago, comes from a Pakistani family, whose culture forces them to have arranged marriages. If he marries someone outside their culture, he is sure to be shunned from the family.
The American girl he is in love with is Emily (Zoe Kazan), a young grad student, who is mortified to know about his tradition and that he never told his family about her. She leaves furiously, but one night a friend of her has Kumail go to the hospital, because Emily is suffering from a disease and must undergo a medically induced coma.
He calls her separated parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) from North Carolina, and while she is in the coma, they become good friends. When they verbally attack a guy for telling Kumail to “Go back to ISIS,” and when they deal with their own personal issues, you can tell Romano and Hunter both knock it out of the park.
With a lot of heart and challenges, “The Big Sick” redeems Kumail Nanjiani after his unhelpful role in “Fist Fight.” This is a much better film which allows the actor to ease his emotions, while adding his own splice of humor. I’ve never watched “Silicon Valley,” and I’ve never really appreciated his roles in previous films (“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” or “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” for example), but I think this is my favorite role from him.