The Big Sick
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The Big Sick

Hating on this sweetheart of a rom-com must be the cinematic equivalent of kicking a puppy. But give this puppy it’s due. Because below the surface of this winning romance is a smart, savvy and very human love story.

Co-written and starring Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani, the based on true tale initially looks like a cute, screwball romantic comedy. And it is. But, perhaps because it is drawn from an actual event, and told in a realistically funny way, this movie also delivers something more sophisticated and surprising.

We begin as our two lovers meet and go through a somewhat traditional boy meets girl, boy loses girl cycle. But here, girl tearfully breaks it off, recognizing the conflicts Kumail holds deep inside, knowing his family will never accept a non-Muslim wife for him. Already we are into more pithy stuff than usual, but, when the only one available to tend to a critically ill Emily is said ex, our comedy gets into some deliciously deeper territory.

Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s script takes us down some off-the-beaten-paths of the modern complexities of love. Not only do we root for our young star-and sickness crossed sweeties, we are charmed by and come to love their very different parents, adults with their own stories, their own loving goals for their children.

Yes, Kumail is natural and appealing as, well, Kumail, but kudos, too, to his co-stars, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter and an especially terrific Ray Romano.

We cannot talk about this accessible, mainstream movie without noting that it addresses the issue of modern day family values, values of differing backgrounds and religions, with dignity and compassion. With its own, very big heart, this big sick may bring some healing our world could surely use.

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