Romance is tricky -- especially when something tragic happens.  This is the surprising basis for The Big Sick, a mix of romantic comedy and drama.

Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a young Pakistani-American happy doing stand-up comedy in Chicago. along with driving an Uber and working on a one-man show.  He also has regular dinner with his family, which almost always involved his mother having single Pakistani women "just drop by."  Kumail resists these set-ups, though he keeps the pictures of the women in a cigar box in his apartment.

Kumail meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) when she either calls out to or heckles him during his comedy act.  They date for a few months, until she finds his box of photographs, realizes why he'd been so reluctant to introduce her to his family, and they break up.  Some time after that, he gets a call to visit Emily in the hospital; when her infection is far more serious than first thought and she has to be put in a medically-induced coma, he decides to stay by her side.
The hospital is where Kumail meets Zoe's parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter).  Terry is laid back and friendly to Kumail; Beth is openly hostile to him, but then defends him against a racist heckler during his act.  They keep getting together as Zoe's situation progresses; there's also plenty of tension between Terry and Beth, making Kumail uncomfortable.
The Big Sick is quite a few things: comedy, drama, romance, reflection on dealing with a family from Pakistan while being a pretty mainstream American.  The movie handles them all well, though there's a largely low-energy feel to the movie.  There are several funny moments (though oddly usually not from the comedy club scenes) and the cast is good (especially Holly Hunter as a passionate, almost manic, mother).  While all the parts of the movie are good, none of them are really great.  The Big Sick is, overall, a pleasant film.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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