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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Thoughts on The Big Sick

I wanted to really like The Big Sick, but I was mixed on it. I do like Kumail Nanjiani's comedy, I liked Michael Showalter's previous films he directed (The Baxter and We Came Together), it had a good balance of big laughs and tense dramatic moments, and there were strong acting performances overall.

But despite that I knew that the film was based on the real-life courtship of Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, and they wrote it, I still felt like it was a white, Westerner's perspective on Pakistani culture vs. white American culture, and it bugged me that the film would present the Pakistani women who his parents wanted him to marry as being in traditional dress with home accents, like being too foreign and old-fashioned, while his ideal choice is a skinny white American woman who acts very girlish and talks like an American millennial. It would sending a message that the white girl was his true love, and while I got that he didn't want to be in an arranged marriage, it still was disappointing that he never tried to get to know any of the women, just tossing their pictures in a box, which sparks a fight with his girlfriend later for hiding this from her.

I didn't find either lead particularly likable, though I appreciated that the film wasn't afraid to make them messy and flawed people. They weren't bad people, and the real people are likely more interesting, but I didn't feel as emotionally connected to their movie counterparts. Nanjiani's film counterpart came off as very immature and self-centered, while Emily's counterpart could be childish and not willing to understand his family's culture. So even though I knew the ending, I wasn't really rooting for them to stay together, I would have been fine if they had amicably broke up at the end.

So I didn't hate the movie, as I appreciated the talented performances from Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, and the actors playing Nanjiani's parents, the more realistic approach to a romantic comedy and a complicated relationship, and the even balance of comedy and drama. But I was thinking about what kind of message the film was sending about arranged marriages vs. love marriages, and how the Western perspective was influencing the film overall.

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