Here’s a romantic comedy with a good story to tell, appropriate for our day and stocked with often-wacky characters whose behavior flows naturally from their own situations.
You know the plot line: A Pakistan-born standup comedian meets a cute American graduate student and they fall in love; his traditional parents expect to select his wife for him; the young man tells his love that he cannot break with his family and ends the relationship; later, the young woman falls ill and then is in a coma; while she is asleep in the hospital, the young man bonds with her worried parents and they hope for her recovery; yada yada yada.
Because it’s a comedy, I don’t think it is revealing too much to say that everything works out in the end.
Along the way there is excellent dialog, fine humor, nice pacing and much heart.
In fact, the lead actor and his wife went through something similar. This led the two of them, good writers both, to adapt their story and turn out a charming film about love, loss and culture clash.
This movie’s producer is Judd Apatow, whose own breakout movie, “Knocked Up,” was much admired as the rom-com of its day, 2007.
I saw that older movie, which I enjoyed, but my recollection is that it was more of a yuck-fest about arrested development. “The Big Sick” is better, I think, because it taps into richer material — the deep ties between parents and children.
All parents approach their children’s potential mates with suspicion and a little fear. They worry whether the chosen one is good enough for the loved child and whether that newcomer will fit in with the established family. There are concerns about personality, religion, class, geography, ethnicity and race. Parents understand that marrying the right person is the best guarantor of a child’s future happiness. They take the matter seriously, even when children don’t want to grant mom and dad any say in the all-important decision.
“The Big Sick” navigates these minefields with understandable characters and a story that treats them with generosity. To do this well and with humor is not an easy needle to thread, but it is done well here.
If you want to see a movie this week and are not in a superhero mood, this is a good one to choose.