THE BIG SICK “Hey, can you get me Erlich Bachman’s number?”

It might already be too late for you, but I wonder what it would be like to go into The Big Sick knowing nothing about it. Not that it’s full of twisty-turny mysteries you don’t want spoiled—this is a gentle, dialogue-driven romantic comedy with weepy overtones—but among the movie’s charms are how naturally it unfolds and how radically it veers from its genre’s template.

So without revealing the thing that happens in the first half (the title isn't much help in concealing it), here's why you should see The Big Sick. Its lead, Kumail Nanjiani, is absurdly likable playing himself in a script he and wife Emily V. Gordon wrote based on their actual romance (the just-as-likeable Zoe Kazan plays movie-Emily). Nanjiani's Pakistani upbringing and his parents' insistence on arranging his marriage are dealt with in ways that feel truthful and funny. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano play Emily's parents, and Hunter is, of course, as great as you would expect, but Romano is completely, blindsidingly excellent. If you like to laugh at movies, you will be doing that. And if you like to cry, you might also be doing a little bit of that, too.

Broken down like this, The Big Sick doesn't sound like anything extraordinary. But that's what makes it so enjoyable—this is the type of sweetly told, small-scale story that has all but evaporated from movie screens, and wouldn't work as a TV show. It's also got one or two things to say about being a Muslim in America, so it's not only different from the usual white-bread romantic comedies, it's very much connected to this political moment, too. Maybe this is putting too much significance onto a story this small. But I think The Big Sick is up for it.

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