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Big Sick, The (Blu-ray) (2017)
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Details At A Glance
||Comedy / Drama
Featurette-Writing Their Story
Featurette-Ray & Holly
Featurette-Making Of-A Personal Journey: The Making Of The Big Sick
Featurette-The Real Story
Featurette-2017 SXSW Film Festival Panel
Audio Commentary-Cast & Filmmakers
Additional Footage-The Big Sick: The Other Stuff
Featurette-The Bigger Sick: Stick Around for More Laughs
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
||Ads Then Menu
Roadshow Home Entertainment
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One of the most unexpected movie-going delights of 2017, The Big Sick is much more than just another fluffy Hollywood romantic comedy. Written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon, the movie is loosely based on the true story of their courtship and romance, eschewing forced sentiment and broad jokes to construct an effective dramedy with cross-cultural themes, an appealing cast, big laughs and heart aplenty. The movie was co-produced by the perpetually-busy Judd Apatow, who pushed Nanjiani to write the screenplay after hearing the real-life story on a podcast. And thank goodness it all worked out, as the autobiographical tale serves as the perfect basis for an affecting and amusing rom-com, one of the best that the genre has seen for some time.
An aspiring Pakistani-born comedian living in Chicago, Kumail (Nanjiani) hopes to earn a spot at a major upcoming comedy festival to further his career, while his traditional parents - Azmat (Anupam Kher) and Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) - frantically try to find a woman for him. But when Kumail meets a white, non-Muslim graduate student named Emily (Zoe Kazan), the pair find themselves entering a relationship, despite their mutual desire to remain unattached. Kumail is compelled to keep his relationship with Emily a secret, because his very strict family require him to enter an arranged marriage with a woman of the same race and religion. After a fight abruptly ends Kumail’s romance with Emily, she winds up contracting a mysterious disease which compels the doctors to put her in a medically-induced coma. Kumail becomes Emily’s temporary caretaker until her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano), fly in from North Carolina. However, even despite the break-up, Kumail finds himself unable to return to his everyday life, staying at the hospital and bonding with Beth and Terry as Emily’s condition baffles the hospital staff.
Since the screenplay is based on real-life experiences, there is a heightened sense of realism and honesty to the movie, earning laughs through witty dialogue rather than dumb, broad slapstick. When Emily is put into a coma, the actions of Beth and Terry ring true, from spending hours on end waiting at the hospital for any sort of news, to taking notes when speaking to the doctors, and Googling every tiny fragment of information about Emily’s condition. The relationship that Kumail forms with Terry and Beth is wholly unforced; they’re understandably hesitant to warm up to him, but Kumail manages to earn their respect and affection. Nanjiani and his wife spent a number of years writing and perfecting the Oscar-nominated screenplay, which also has a few things to say about the intolerance of modern-day America. Indeed, The Big Sick does not shy away from showing the bias towards Muslims, and wisely uses astute humour to lighten the mood. In addition, the movie realistically examines the struggle that comes with being biologically tied to one culture whilst living in and trying to assimilate into another.
Slickly assembled and shrewdly paced by director Michael Showalter (who previously worked with Nanjiani on 2015’s Hello, My Name Is Doris), The Big Sick makes the most of its meagre $5 million budget, with pleasing cinematography and agreeable soundtrack choices. Despite the weightiness of the story’s subject matter, Showalter miraculously manages to negotiate effective tonal changes throughout, earning laughs when appropriate whilst also creating something very poignant. The Big Sick is certainly lengthy, coming in at a hair under two hours including credits, but it’s rarely boring or meandering. With such a generous runtime in place, the movie has leeway for smaller moments, including a painfully realistic and touching scene during which Kumail listens to old voicemails from Emily. Little looks and pauses are also permitted, but Showalter keeps the proceedings on a tight leash more often than not. However, the stand-up comedian world has been explored quite a bit on-screen in the past (including in Apatow’s own Funny People), and The Big Sick is admittedly at its weakest when focusing on Kumail’s stand-up friends improvising on-stage to mixed results. These sequences should be a bit leaner, particularly since the jokes are not that funny.
Admittedly, Nanjiani does look his age, which may be slightly jarring since he was in his 20s when the events of the story took place, but his performance is so focused and charming that it hardly matters. Playing himself, Nanjiani’s comedic timing is spot-on, and he also proves to be an adept dramatic performer to boot - he imbues the movie with genuine heart, which is one of the things that elevates The Big Sick above the ordinary. Happily, Nanjiani is surrounded by a winning supporting cast, with Zoe Kazan a particular standout as Emily. Although she’s absent for the second act due to the nature of Emily’s illness, Kazan is effortlessly disarming, and handles the emotional moments with impressive assurance. In addition, the chemistry between Nanjiani and Kazan seriously sparkles. Meanwhile, Hunter and Romano play a bit against type, with the normally comedic Romano asked to call upon his dramatic chops and predominantly play things straight. Nevertheless, both thespians truly shine in their respective roles, adding more heart and coming across as believable parents.
Yes, The Big Sick does incorporate a few standard rom-com clichés, but that’s inevitable, and it hardly matters since the picture is otherwise full of heart, originality and honesty. Some aspects of the story are exaggerated or changed compared to the real story as well, but it all adds up to a dramatically satisfying and well-rounded movie with the potential to appeal to a wide audience. The Big Sick is fun and funny, telling a worthwhile story whilst providing an edifying look into the difficulties of upholding familial and cultural traditions in contemporary society. Plus, even though this is a true story with a foregone conclusion, it’s still easy to become fully invested in the picture and worry about what’s going to happen in terms of both Emily’s health and the fate of the central coupling. The Big Sick is a big winner all-round.
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The Oscar-nominated The Big Sick arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment, who present the movie in AVC-encoded 1080p high definition, framed at its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. For those keeping score at home, 1.85:1 takes up the majority of a standard widescreen television, with only tiny black slivers at the top and bottom of the image. With a fair bit of screen real-estate for the encode to take care of, the movie is thankfully mastered with an above-average video bitrate approaching 30 Mbps. The results are very pleasing, delivering probably the best viewing experience that one could reasonably expect from a 1080p Blu-ray. Sure, a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release would offer improvements in a few areas, but I won't lose sleep over The Big Sick only being released on regular Blu-ray.
Owing to the more than sufficient bitrate, fine detail is excellent for the most part throughout the transfer, revealing ample textures on skin, clothing and all environments. In close-ups and even medium shots, faces look highly-detailed, impressively resolving all wrinkles and pores. Even in scenes set backstage at the comedy club - which are dimly-lit - look refined and reveal excellent texturing. Additionally, the presentation is razor-sharp for the most part, sporting superb object delineation. Since The Big Sick was shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras (IMDb lists the camera as an Alexa Mini), a light layer of source noise is frequently apparent, but it's always finely-resolved rather than blocky, and never proves to be a distraction - if anything, it makes the footage seem more realistic, almost documentary-style, and the transfer also looks more textured as a result. Admittedly, the presentation isn't perfect - certain scenes set at night (such as the first scene of Kumail and Emily in bed post-coitus) look a touch soft, muddy and unrefined, and there is minor banding to boot. But these shortcomings aren't frequent, thankfully.
Colour is surprisingly strong throughout. I sometimes find it difficult to watch standard Blu-rays with their limited colour space since High Dynamic Range is now spoiling us on 4K discs, but The Big Sick looks just fine from a colour perspective. The palette is gorgeously saturated, with accurate skin tones (faces never looks pasty) and strong primaries that pop at every opportunity. Meanwhile, contrast is above-average and blacks look rich which allows for terrific image depth. As a result, I was never left feeling underwhelmed. Look at any driving scene at night - colours still look nice despite the darkness, and the consistently shifting lighting is well-handled by the competent encode. Of course the presentation could be afforded a bit more pop with HDR, particularly in darker moments which could be better balanced, but that's neither here nor there. Aside from the minor banding, the competent presentation never falls victim to any other unsightly video anomalies like aliasing, macroblocking or anything else - it's smooth sailing from start to finish.
I did not expect much from The Big Sick on Blu-ray, but the results are a welcome surprise. In terms of textures, image depth, colours and clarity, this high definition presentation is a big winner. It looked stunning for the most part when upscaled on my 4K television.
English subtitles are available. The track is well-formatted and easy to read.
Video Ratings Summary
The sole audio option on the disc (aside from the audio commentary and a descriptive audio track) is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which is in keeping with how the movie was exhibited theatrically. This is a dialogue-driven dramedy, so don't expect much in the way of impressive panning effects or surround channel usage, and it's not reference-quality by any means, but the track nevertheless gets the job done commendably. With the lossless encode, all dialogue and music comes through with superb clarity and precision, while prioritisation is well-judged from start to finish. Since the movie mostly revolves around dialogue, this is a front-centric presentation, though the rear channels are put to good use for music and ambience. Indeed, during scenes set at the comedy club, there's commotion as punters chat and drink. At the hospital, people chat and walk around, and announcements can be heard in the background. No matter where the movie is taking place, the audio is immersive and the track feels full.
Without any drop-outs, sync issues, pops, clicks or any other encoding errors, The Big Sick sounds terrific on Blu-ray.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
A reasonably satisfying selection of special features is included. I wish there was a meatier documentary, but I still enjoyed the extras on offer. Before the main menu, there is an anti-piracy ad as well as a few movie trailers, but they're thankfully skippable.
Audio Commentary The first extra on the disc is a feature-length audio commentary with Nanjiani, co-writer Emily V. Gordon, director Michael Showalter and producer Barry Mendel. (The absence of Judd Apatow feels somewhat like a missed opportunity.) Recorded not long after the movie's premiere, the track feels light and jovial throughout, with the group delivering a predominantly scene-specific commentary, taking the opportunity to speak about casting, writing and filming. The commentators also joke around - Barry is eating throughout most of the track, for instance. Minor production-related anecdotes are revealed (like Showalter giving Nanjiani his shirt for a scene), while they also touch upon deleted material and cinematography. In addition, they also talk openly about disagreements over jokes, and even initial fears that certain scenes wouldn't work. Annoyingly, there is a section when the dialogue in the movie is mixed too loudly, making the commentary hard to comprehend, but the issue is thankfully not long-lasting. Oddly, too, the commentary suddenly cuts off at the end, seemingly mid-sentence. While not a necessarily great track, this is still a worthwhile audio commentary full of interesting tidbits.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 10:06) A selection of eight deleted scenes, which play one after the other - there is no individual scene selection. It's easy to understand why most of these were cut, as they don't add a great deal to the narrative, but there are still some scenes with merit. Particularly funny is a scene in which Terry and Kumail have a conversation in the hospital bathroom.
Writing Their Story (HD; 2:20) A promotional EPK-style featurette rather than something more substantive, this extra sees Nanjiani, Gordon and Apatow talking about the writing of the movie, intercut with film clips and B-roll footage. This was clearly intended for promotional purposes, and is actually available to view on YouTube.
Emily (HD; 1:37) The real-life Emily and actress Zoe Kazan talk about the movie, and how the pair got along during production. I couldn't find this one on YouTube, but it's in exactly the same vein as the previous extra and was clearly intended for online promotion.
Ray & Holly (HD; 3:05) Another extra that's available to view on YouTube, this featurette concentrates on Romano and Hunter. The two actors themselves chime in to talk about the movie, while other cast and crew talk about the pair's contributions.
Understanding Cultures (HD; 2:13) The final short EPK-style featurette on this disc concentrates on understanding cultures, logically enough. Nanjiani and Gordon sit down together to touch upon the sensitive subject.
A Personal Journey: The Making of The Big Sick (HD; 14:47) Here we have an admittedly too brief but nevertheless fascinating featurette about the making of the movie, tracing the project's origins, writing, casting, and filming. An array of cast and crew are interviewed, with Apatow luckily getting the chance to speak about the production and the actors. The interviews here were taken from the same interview sessions used for the previous featurettes, and there is some noticeable repetition and overlap as a result. (Pieces of the previous featurettes are even included here.)
The Real Story (HD; 7:09) Nanjiani and Gordon sit down to talk about the real story on which the movie is based, pointing out where the script differs from reality. This is another worthwhile featurette which enhances the movie. Gordon actually tells an interesting anecdote at one stage which would have made for a good scene. (There is a strange encoding error of sorts here - the title card "The Real Story" is missing from this master. Oddly, there is no such issue with the version of the featurette that's been posted on YouTube.)
2017 SXSW Film Festival Panel (HD; 11:30) Nanjiani, Gordon, Apatow and Mendel happily take questions about the movie at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2017. This is more worthwhile than I thought it would be, with substantive questions allowing for some fascinating discussion. This is mostly new information, going into detail about Nanjiani's Muslim heritage and how certain moments were suddenly recontextualised after the 2016 presidential election.
The Big Sick: The Other Stuff (HD; 3:47) A mostly amusing collection of bloopers, additional jokes and alternate takes that did not make it into the final cut. This is briskly-edited and often quite funny.
The Bigger Sick: Stick Around for More Laughs (HD; 10:24) A number of cast and crew embarked on a Big Sick Comedy Tour to promote the movie in May and June of 2017. Here we have some funny snippets of the on-stage performances and backstage footage. This is an excellent way to round out the disc.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
The Region A-locked U.S. disc from Lionsgate misses out on the following extras:
While the local disc only misses out on Spanish language options. As far as I can tell from available information, the U.K. disc also lacks the four abovementioned featurettes. Our additional extras may be slight, but they still give Roadshow's release the edge. It's a rare win for the local!
- Writing Their Story (2:20)
- Emily (1:37)
- Ray & Holly (3:05)
- Understanding Cultures (2:13)
Ostensibly arriving out of nowhere, The Big Sick is an unexpected delight. It's funny, touching and enjoyable, benefitting from a great cast and well-judged pacing. It's easy to see why it earned an Oscar nomination for its screenplay.
Roadshow's Blu-ray will surely please fans of the movie. The technical presentation is sound from top to bottom, with excellent video and audio, and there's a pleasant selection of special features to round out the disc. Highly recommended.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, February 15, 2018
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|