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The Big Sick

Year: 2017
Production Co: Apatow Productions
Director: Michael Showalter
Producer: Judd Apatow
Writer: Emily V Gordon/Kumail Nanjiani
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Roy Romano

From Woody Allen to Greta Gerwig and beyond, this kind of thing is almost a genre in itself – urban intellectuals disconnected from the natural world (including their own biology) and utterly consumed with their first world romantic and self-actualisation problems.

Judd Apatow is another of the modern paragons of this kind of thing, and The Big Sick (an Apatow production) is set in the same very familiar world – Uber, hookups, standup comedians and modern day ennui all stirred up in the same very Big Apple-flavoured miasma. But instead of living completely in the shrouds of their own tech-assisted, intellectualised world, nature comes crashing in.

In an autobiographical tale, Kumail Nanjiani plays himself as a comic working the standup club scene in Manhattan with his friends while he hopes to break big, driving for Uber on the side and living his life, including occasional success with girls. One is Emily (Zoe Kazan), and instead of the expected one night stand they share, they want to spend more time together – another hallmark of the edgy, knowing romcom scene that's also very familiar being when a young, educated couple mistake love for mere sex.

But their budding relationship is further complicated by Kumail's struggle with the cultural differences between them. He loves his overbearing traditional family but knows full well he's expected to pick one of the many Pakistani women his mother tries to set him up with after the 'coincidental' family visits and signed headshots, like they're auditioning for a role.

But as soon as things come to a head with Emily, she's suddenly taken to hospital for an illness and put into an induced coma she might never come out of. Kumail is left slightly adrift, only then realising he might have been starting to fall in love with her but with no other connection to her life.

When he hears about her fate and goes to see her in hospital, he gets a frosty reception from her parents (Roy Romano and an acerbic Holly Hunter). They politely thank him for his concern and expect him to leave, but all Kumail can think to do to show the devotion he was starting to feel towards Emily is stay around her bedside and the hospital cafeteria with them.

Like he's a lost dog, their hearts soften and they start to accept Kumail, he getting more of an insight into Emily and where she's come from and regretting even more his failure to pull the trigger with her. There's nothing too new on show but it's good natured and the laughs are as plentiful as you hope for.

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