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It’s gone pair-shaped

Based on a genuinely heart-warming true romance, The Big Sick ticks all the boxes for a good rom-com

27 July, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan in The Big Sick

THE BIG SICK
Directed by Michael Showalter
Certificate 15
☆☆☆☆

WHAT should a rom-com contain to make it a bearable watch?

It is crucial that it features two characters who you care about – and whose on/off relationship is both believable and doesn’t make you want to puke in your date’s popcorn, bash their heads together, or hope – due to their nauseating personalities – they both die lonely and unloved.

Jokes help, too – after all, that’s what the com bit stands for.

Then the storyline also needs to have enough twists to make it not too obvious as to how the love-struck couple will finally see reason and put their foibles, issues and baggage behind them.

The Big Sick manages to do all these things – in a theatre of a fantastically, famously hard-to-squeeze-a-chuckle-out-of film critics, there was much guffawing. And add to this that the story is based on a genuinely heart-warming true romance, and you’ll be hooked.

Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is the stand-up comic who finds himself attracted to Emily (Zoe Kazan), after a brief piece of on-stage banter when she woo-hoos a joke of his and he takes umbrage at her interruption. Romance blossoms but the bump in the road comes along in the guise of Kumail’s traditional Pakistani family. They are determined to arrange a marriage, making his attempts at finding true love without the help of his domineering mother (Vella Lovell on super form) and his father (Ray Romano).

Disastrously for our love-struck pair, just as things are developing nicely, Emily finds a cigar box full of possible brides Kumail has stashed in his bachelor flat.

He has not told her about this issue, nor informed his family that he is dating her, and so everything is off.

And then, just as the plot reaches the break point, Emily falls ill with a mysterious affliction and only Kumail is around to sign an emergency consent form to have her placed in a medical-induced coma.

The poor Lothario is thrown in to the maelstrom of emotions as he watches her deteriorate – and gets to meet her folks in rather unusual circumstances.

This is a comedy that will appeal to a large demographic. It has great leads, wonderful jokes, a serious undertone, a commentary on cultural clashes and is sweet without being sickly.

It will make you want to hug your nearest and dearest, and in the grand scheme of rom-com tick boxes, get a big red pen out and, as Sally would say when Harry met her, mark it: Yes! Yes! Yes!

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