The Big Sick is the thoroughly authentic and enjoyable romantic comedy written by Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani about their own experience meeting and falling in love. The plot is so out there it would hinder the movie if it wasn’t the real autobiographical tale of how the two fell in love after Emily falls into an unexpected coma.
Directed by Michael Showalter, this has all the hallmarks of a Judd Apatow produced film. There’s the exposure of up and coming comedians and another glance into the culture of stand up comedy. At its core is a genuinely heartwarming and moving experience covered with layers of comedy. While it doesn’t have the outrageousness of marquee films The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, the authenticity and warmth behind it put it at the high end of Apatow features.
The film opens with Kumail, a struggling stand up comedian and part time uber driver, encountering Emily (Zoe Kazan). An enjoyable drawn out montage of their budding relationship ensues, punctuated with witty repertoire from fellow stand ups Aidy Bryant and Bo Burnham playing Kumail’s support network. The humour is dry and the romance as original as a rom-com can be nowadays, but this all comes to a head when Emily comes to realise Kumail is honour bound by his parents to marry a fellow Pakistani muslim. Information he purposely conceals.
Soon after a painful separation, Emily falls into an unexpected coma bringing Kumail back into her life. At the hospital he encounters her parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter). It’s enjoyably awkward, emotional and funny. What shines through most is its realness. Hunter’s small stature belies a big personality. Romano as the awkward incapable father is a role familiar to him, but one he does so well that it’s great to see him on the screen after a hiatus of mostly voice work.
Kumail is unquestionably the star of the show. His deprecating and dry humor are endearing. His cultural heritage becomes one of the strong themes of the film. The prejudices he faces are presented in a clever modern way. From the innocuous questions rooted in ignorance to the occasional bare face ugly racism, the screenplay and Kumail himself handle the issue with grace. On the flip side is the delicate criticism and praise shown towards the Pakistani muslim culture localised within the west. This is done through often comedic interactions with Kumail’s stubborn and loving family.
One of the few criticisms is an ending that undoubtedly was difficult to construct with unnecessarily heightened tension. A simpler less drawn out ending would have perhaps made a more compact and complete film. But that’s getting a bit nit picky. The film is a solid blend of humour and romance, without falling to the trappings and pitfalls of clichés that this genre often falls into. With its true story the film is one not to be missed. The photos of the real life husband and wife duo during the credits are really the icing on the cake. Original and watchable for any demographic, this hits all the right notes and is a high point for rom-coms.
The Big Sick is in cinemas from 3rd August through Roadshow Films.