Sometimes it’s the sad scenarios that provide the biggest laughs and feel-good moments. Thus is the case with The Big Sick, written by Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and Emily V. Gordon, based on their real-life relationship. Najiani stars as a fictionalized version of himself, a struggling comedian trying to catch his big break. Kumail’s parents are not supportive of his dreams and expect him to have a traditional arranged marriage. Kumail meets Emily (Zoe Kazan), a white Ph.D. student and they fall in love. When Emily becomes extremely sick with an infection that puts her into a medically induced coma, Kumail has to deal with the repercussions while hiding his relationship from his family.
Unlike a lot of movies that deal with illness, The Big Sick is not an overdrawn melodrama. It’s realistic. Movies about illness can often get way too sappy, but The Big Sick avoids this common mishap. Owing to the fact that the movie is based on real events, The Big Sick feels more like a peek into someone’s life than a manufactured movie. Watching it, I was reminded of times when my own loved ones were dealing with health issues. The film accurately portrays what it’s like to experience something traumatic and the struggle you go through to keep everything together. It’s refreshing and unique. Plus it explores what it’s like being an immigrant in America and finding your own identity, giving the film industry some much-needed diversity. It manages to combine humor and heart, creating a winning film.
Kumail Nanjiani, an actor known for cameos and bits parts shines in the leading role. He’s hilarious, nailing every joke. He also nails the dramatic scenes with convincing vulnerability. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, two heavyweights bring it as Emily’s parents. Hunter brings her trademark sass to the role, but she also manages to be poignant and tender. Keep an eye out for a fantastic scene where her character calls out a racist heckler. It’s a delight. Romano, mostly known for his title sitcom and the Ice Age franchise showcases his traditional comedic chops and plays the perfect foil to his on-screen wife, Hunter. Zoe Kazan is endearing as Emily, Kumail’s love interest. Kazan has more than proven her worth as a leading lady in films like Ruby Sparks and What If?; unfortunately, her character is comatose for a lot of the movie. If I had one complaint it’s that the movie needed to explore Emily more. Rounding out the cast is a great group of supporting actors including comedy favorites like Aidy Bryant and Bo Burnham.
Overall, The Big Sick is a movie that you should make a point to see. It’s funny, poignant, and memorable. If you can find a screening near you, make a point to see it.
The Big Sick is currently playing in select cities. It will be released nationwide on July 14th.