What’s there to like?
It’s been a little while–a few months at least–since I’ve seen a nice little indie comedy. In The Big Sick, Kamail Nanjiani plays a Pakistani man in Chicago who falls in love with an American woman played by Zoe Kazan. Cultural obstacles present themselves, and then a serious illness sends everything sideways.
Indie romantic comedies live or die on how relatable they are. And with The Big Sick, I can believe it. I can buy into the whole thing. I believe the group of friends who are sort of trying to make it as comedians but giving not 100%. Maybe 80%. Good enough to get by and probably pretend to yourself you’re really #gettingafterit. The flirting between Kumail and Emily felt real, and charming. There’s a we-can’t-do-this-again theme to their first meetings, but it becomes clear they don’t entirely mean it. And there’s this bit of heartwarming heckling at the end that’s nice and, again, charming.
Another relatable factor: my family is obviously nowhere near as traditional as Nanjiani’s was, but when I lived in New York and Chicago, it definitely felt like my growing up was out of another culture. So I enjoyed that too, even though the details were different and more dramatic in the movie.
And oh, there was some surprisingly real relationship and marriage juice from Emily’s parents. Pearls of wisdom like, you can never know you you love someone until you cheat on them. Simultaneously ridiculous and maybe containing some tiny kernel of bizarre insight buried deep down.
I guess I should say it’s funny too? Certainly there were some laughs, but nothing overwhelming, and it’s hard to remember a lot of the jokes and lines. I mean, it’s definitely a comedy, but I enjoyed the romance and the poignant stuff more than the yuks, I think.
What’s not to like?
It’s not that I didn’t like a lot of stuff. Just at this level I’m talking about things that kept it good instead of great.
So, with that disclaimer, I’ll say that even though I said I liked the flirting part, a lot of the rest of the romantic relationship part felt a little flat. Which is a bit weird, if it’s based on a true story. And since I’m sure they spiced up a few things in the name of artistic license, maybe some of the dramatic elements could have been heightened to make the romantic part of this romcom more . . . romantic.
A charming, heartwarming indie romantic comedy that has strengths in the indie aspect as much as in the romantic or comedy parts.
[Crossposted at practicallyculture.com]