The Big Sick ★★★½

"I didn't heckle you, just woo-hoo'd you. It's supportive." ~ Emily

Director Michael Showalter's third feature film extends his comedy credentials, based upon the true life experiences of married screenwriters Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. Nanjiani plays himself here, an aspiring stand-up comedian who meets his soulmate Emily (Zoe Kazan) while performing at a Chicago club. During the day, he drives for Uber and tries to ignore the pressures of his Pakistani immigrant family to find a real job and marry a proper Muslim girl.

Dating Emily holds a lot more interest for Kumail than any women his parents try to set him up with. They feel overwhelmed by one another. But family expectations come between them, especially his brother Naved (Adeel Akhtar) who had an arranged marriage to Fatima (Shenaz Treasury) and swears by it. In time, Emily, who was married once before, gets that there is no future with Kumail and breaks off their budding relationship.

Kumail goes back to meeting marriage prospects and hitting up girls in the audience at the Club. But then he learns Emily is very ill. He visits her in the hospital and learns she has a bad lung infection, which requires an immediate operation. She's put into a medically induced coma.

Playing Emily's parents Beth and Terry are Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Kumail's fellow comedians include CJ (Bo Burnham), Chris (Kurt Braunohler) and Mary (Aidy Bryant). And among the prospective brides who just "drop in" are Kahadija (Vella Lovell), Yazmin (Mitra Jouhari), Zubeida (Kuhoo Verma) and Sumera (Shunori Ramanathan).

The cross-cultural aspects of the film may take the forefront, but the subtext about marital relationships of all types is important, too. No marriage is perfect, of course, but Showalter has fun showing us just how imperfect they can be, which won him awards at SXSW, Locarno, Nantucket and the Norwegiam International Film Festival. No majors, but enough love to indicate this is a film well worth seeing, and I agree.

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