The Big Sick is based on the real-life story of comedian Kumail Nanjiani and the time his wife, Emily V. Gordon, was in a coma. It sounds sad because it is. But make no mistake, The Big Sick is very, very funny. (It’s still sad though.)
When Emily (Zoe Kazan) heckles Kumail (playing himself) at one of his comedy shows, they start casually seeing each other, eventually leading to a more serious relationship. Emily wants to take the relationship further and wants to introduce Kumail to her parents, but he doesn’t reciprocate that feeling and they break up. You see, his traditional Pakistani Muslim family would never approve of him dating a White American since they are trying to set up an arranged marriage for him with a nice, Pakistani woman. When Emily gets sick and has to be put in a medically-induced coma, Kumail has to navigate his own family dynamics while trying to bond with Emily’s parents while she’s unconscious. It’s as awkward as it sounds, and of course, makes for a hilarious movie.
What makes this film so utterly charming, other than the perpetually charming Zoe Kazan, is the fact that it’s a real rom-com. As in, this is a very real situation and these are real emotions that people experienced. It’s not some ridiculous plot where the two leads barely know each other and then declare their love after an extremely awkward meet-cute. (Okay, the coma part of this story seems a little over-the-stop, but it’s *REAL* people!) It’s such a genuine story that it makes the jokes that much more refreshing, and they’re told in such a deadpan way that the punchlines have that much more impact.
Not only that, but this film sees some of the best work in recent years from Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, who play Emily’s parents, Beth and Terry. (I smell potential Oscar nominations.) We all know someone like Beth – a no nonsense mother will stop at nothing to do what she thinks is best for her daughter. At the same time, Terry is the perfect counter-balance – the calm parent, who is usually the voice of reason. I’d watch a whole movie about Beth and Terry’s relationship. (Make it happen Amazon!)
It’s hard to write a movie about your own relationship, but Nanjiani and Gordon have written the best possible script for their story. It exemplifies how people can use humour as an awkward crutch to cover up their true insecurities and worries. Everything about the film, from the script, to the direction, and to the acting, works together in perfect harmony. The film can go from heartbreaking to heartwarming in a couple of minutes, all without you realizing it. To put it simply, The Big Sick is sublime.
The Big Sick had me crying, laughing, and crying from laughing. There’s no doubt in my mind that this film will become a classic romantic-comedy that people will be talking about for years. It’s a movie for people who love comedy. It’s a movie for people who love dramas. And most importantly, it’s a movie for people who love love.
P.S. There was no good place to put this, but shout out to Kumail for hanging a Shaun of the Dead poster in his room. See if you notice it when you see the film.