Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, David Alan Grier
Directed By: Michael Showalter
Plot: Based on the actual real life story of how Kumail met his with Emily (Kazan), and how she got sick, and the awkwardness of meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time while she’s in a coma.
What Works: Everything. I thought Kumail was funny. It’s hard to give him too many criticisms when he’s playing himself, because I’m sure he knows how to accurately do that more than I do, but I thought he did a good job. The film gives him opportunities later in the film to show some range, as it does for Ray Romano. Holly Hunter is terrific, as usual. Zoe Kazan is also great in her role, and has more to do than i expected from knowing the synopsis of the film. The film is very smart, and offers a lot to say about love, life, and how Pakistani and Muslim culture is not as different as you may think. Kumail does a great job going through sort of a subplot of “crisis of faith”, where he’s not really sure he wants about anything regarding Muslim practices or Pakistani culture. Kumail is definitely a writer with a unique perspective and voice, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. If I really wanted to put on my super serious cinema critic hat, we could probably talk more at length about how this is likely Kumail’s Annie Hall, even though he didn’t direct it. Though the core of the story (man doesn’t know who he is until woman comes in the picture) is a theme that resonates in so many films. But, if Kumail ends up producing a legacy anywhere near Woody Allen’s, film historians 40 years from now will talk about this like it was his Annie Hall.
What Doesn’t Work: If I had only seen half the film, I might be writing about how Kumail’s performance felt flat, but the rangy stuff is all the payoff near the end as he’s on an exploration of what Emily means to him, and if he can turn his back on tradition.
Final Word: One of my favorite films of the year so far. Definitely the best comedy/drama we’ve had. There aren’t a TON of laughs, but there are many, and they’re carefully spaced between more serious moments. Excellent direction from Michael Showalter, who balanced those two genres brilliantly.
Final Grade: A