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Michael Showalter
Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano
Writing Credits:
Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 9/19/2017

• Audio Commentary with Director Michael Showalter, Producer Barry Mendel, Writer/Actor Kumail Nanjiani and Writer Emily V. Gordon
• “A Personal Journey” Featurette
• “The Real Story” Featurette
• 2017 SXSW Panel
• “The Other Stuff” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Bigger Sick”
• Previews


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The Big Sick [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 10, 2017)

A minor summer sleeper among big-budget blockbusters, 2017’s The Big Sick takes a look at a real-life romance that faced a rocky road. Raised in Pakistan, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) works toward a career as a comedian in Chicago.

Kumail struggles to gain traction in that regard, but his social life picks up when he meets grad student Emily (Zoe Kazan). As the two of them fall in love, they deal with compilations because his traditional parents (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) expect him to marry another Pakistani – and they encounter more severe issues when Emily comes down with a serious illness.

As implied earlier, Sick comes based on the actual life/love of Nanjiani and wife/movie co-writer Emily V. Gordon. That factual background gives the film a bit more charge, as it adds some depth to the tale.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a particularly interesting story – not when it concentrates on Kumail and Emily, at least. Despite a relatively long running time for a comedy, Sick rushes through the Emily/Kumail relationship as it pushes us to get to her hospitalization.

This creates a void during the film’s first act, as we don’t develop much interest in or attachment to Kumail or Emily. Nanjiani and Kazan show little chemistry with each other, a problem given the fact we need to bond with them.

During that first act, neither fleshes out their role well. Nanjiani seems a little out of his element as a lead actor – after a career in supporting roles, he feels tentative when asked to take charge.

That’s better than Kazan, who fails to find any charm in Emily. In Kazan’s hands, Emily seems flighty and annoying – we don’t really get why Kumail falls for her, so we don’t bond with her and don’t care if Kumail ends up with her.

These factors made me ready to give up hope for Sick, but the film improves considerably once Emily’s parents Terry and Beth enter the picture. Played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, the movie concentrates on the burgeoning relationship between those two and Kumail, a choice that allows the story to blossom.

I think a lot of this stems from the strengths of Hunter and Romano. Both enjoy great experience as main characters, so even though they play secondary roles here, they show the personality and dominance more typical of leads.

This means Sick comes to life when we see Terry and Beth, and Nanjiani benefits because he doesn’t need to carry the load. Perhaps he’ll eventually develop into an actor able to take control of a movie, but right now, he seems more at home supporting parts, so he works much better when Hunter and Romano take over the film.

Once Emily emerges from her coma, we go back to “hey, I really don’t like that woman!” mode again, unfortunately. Sure, Romano and Hunter remain on the scene to blunt some of the damage, but I invariably wanted to slap Kumail and tell him to date some of those nice Pakistani women his mom wanted him to marry – they seem much more engaging than irritating old Emily.

All of this leaves Sick as a mixed bag – and a mixed bag that probably should lose a good 20 to 30 minutes of running time. Parts of it work very well, but much of it meanders and suffers from characters we just don’t embrace.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

The Big Sick appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a competent but not great image.

Most of the movie displayed positive clarity and delineation, but some exceptions occurred. Occasional wide shots appeared a little softer than expected; those were infrequent, but they did come along for the ride.

Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Sick went with a mix of teal and orange. These choices seemed unimpressive but the image reproduced them well.

Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots could be a bit dense. Those weren’t bad shots, but they seemed a little darker than anticipated. This was a “B” image.

Don’t expect much more than a standard comedy mix from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as the audio tended to be pretty restrained, so we didn’t get a lot of involvement and activity. This was fine for a movie of this sort, however, so the low-key soundfield wasn’t a detriment. Club and street scenes broadened a bit, but the scope stayed restrained.

Audio quality was perfectly acceptable. Speech showed nice clarity and naturalism, and music was reasonably distinctive and dynamic.

Effects lacked much to stand out, but they appeared accurate, and they showed mild punch when necessary. All of this seemed good enough for a “B-“.

When we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Michael Showalter, producer Barry Mendel, writer/actor Kumail Nanjiani and writer Emily V. Gordon. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the facts behind the fiction and story/characters, sets and locations, music, cast and performances, editing and cut sequences, and connected domains.

The commentary focuses more on the creative side of the film than the technical, so don’t expect much in terms of nuts and bolts details. We do get a very nice view of the narrative and acting decisions made, though, and the participants even spill “dirt” about some conflicts on the set. I’d like a little more about the real-life Nanjiani/Gordon relationship, but this still becomes a very good chat.

A few video programs ensue, and these start with A Personal Journey: The Making of The Big Sick. It runs 14 minutes, 49 seconds and offers comments from Nanjiani, Gordon, Showalter, Mendel, producer Judd Apatow and actors Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher and Holly Hunter.

“Journey” goes over the project’s origins and development, Showalter’s approach to the material, cast and performances. Some of the material repeats from the commentary, but most of it’s new, so we find a nice overview.

During The Real Story, we find a seven-minute, 11-second chat with Nanjiani and Gordon. They discuss aspects of their relationship and elements reflected in the film. It’s a decent overview, but it could be more detailed.

A 2017 SXSW Panel takes up 11 minutes, 32 seconds and features Nanjiani, Gordon, Mendel, and Apatow. They cover development, the film’s depiction of Muslims, the mix of fact and fiction, cast and performances, and Apatow’s influence. The panel delivers a pretty engaging series of comments.

The Big Sick: The Other Stuff goes for three minutes, 47 seconds. It shows alternate/cut lines – these aren’t long enough to qualify as deleted scenes, but they offer some fun material.

Eight Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 10 minutes, six seconds. In these, we tend to get a mix of comedic character bits. Nothing important arises, but we find some moderately amusing snippets.

With The Bigger Sick, we find a 10-minute, 25-second reel that shows snippets from a movie-related promotional tour that featured Nanjiani, Gordon, Apatow, Romano, Hunter, Kazan and actors Aidy Bryant and Kurt Braunohler. It turns into a fairly enjoyable piece.

The disc opens with ads for The Wall, Manchester By the Sea, How to Be a Latin Lover, The Glass Castle and A Ghost Story. No trailer for Sick appears here.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Sick. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

At times, The Big Sick manages to deliver an entertaining mix of comedy and drama. However, too much of it drags, and it suffers from a void at its top. The Blu-ray presents mostly good picture and audio along with a nice set of supplements. Sick finds itself as an up and down film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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