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Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, and Ray Romano Shine in THE BIG SICK’s First Trailer

Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, and Ray Romano Shine in THE BIG SICK’s First Trailer

These past few years have seen the romantic comedy genre undergo an unexpected change for the better. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a staunch defender of the sappiest and silliest rom-coms as far back as the His Girl Friday era, straight on through the heydays of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. But we have to admit that the 21st century has dropped the ball on great romances we can laugh at. That is, until recently. Some might say the trend kicked off with the 2012 smash hit Silver Linings Playbook, while others may contend that it was the under-the-radar Daniel Radcliffe- and Zoe Kazan-featuring What If that really incepted this new chapter of smart, funny, and decidedly sweet pictures. Wherever you want to pinpoint its beginnings, the stretch has continued on through the likes of Enough SaidObvious ChildTrainwreck, and now The Big Sick.

The film, which we saw at Sundance and loved, comes from the minds of director Michael Showalter, writer Emily V. Gordon, and writer/star Kumail Nanjiani, who draws heavily from his own experiences meeting, dating, and enduring the ailments of his co-writer and wife, Gordon. Following the standard rom-com model, The Big Sick oversees Kumail and Emily’s (Zoe Kazan, again!) meet-cute, blossoming romance, growing relationship, and that inevitable things-go-south period… all before getting to the kicker: Emily’s coma.

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In a move unique to this particular otherwise traditional romantic comedy, much of the story follows Kumail tending to a comatose Emily, hand in hand with her emotionally overwrought, frequently squabbling, and consistently hilarious parents (a terrific Holly Hunter and Ray Romano–both scene stealers). Were that not enough, Kumail contends with the mores of his own family, who desperately want him to eschew his feelings for Emily in favor of a relationship with a Muslim, Pakistani girl.

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Heavy though much of the subject matter is, Nanjiani and Gordon’s script keeps things tender and, even in its more harrowing moments, regularly hysterical. Whether you’re hankering for your usual rom-com fix, or you’re a cold-hearted cynic who happens to be a fan of Nanjiani’s sinister deadpan (or Ray Romano’s delightfully doofy shtick), The Big Sick will prove an enjoyable watch.

Images: Amazon

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