The Big Sick is a romantic comedy written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon based upon the real life story of how they met, as well as the serious illness that hit Emily not long after. It stars Kumail Nanjiani as himself and Zoe Kazan as Emily Gardner, based upon the real life Emily.
The Big Sick manages to seamlessly blend hilarious and witty humour, with huge amounts of heart and a surprising dose of reflection on real world issues. Nanjiani brings in a lot of cultural issues to the film, particularly looking at the complications of their relationship when Kumail comes from a strict Pakistani family who expect him to have an arranged marriage to a Pakistani girl. The film handles these as well as several other bug cultural themes very well, never letting them overshadow the comedy, but also not just writing these themes off as a joke.
The performances of Nanjiani and Kazan as the leads, along with Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents, really make the film. Both Nanjiani and Kazan make you really care for both a Kumail and Emily. Hunter and Romano give such powerful and emotional performances that it really helps elevate The Big Sick above the standard romantic comedy. The actors playing Kumail’s family also all do good jobs, but don’t have as many big emotional scenes as the likes of Hunter or Romano, so do not have the same opportunity to stand out.
Perhaps because it is fairly closely based on real life events, but The Big Sick manages to avoid a lot of the clichés of romantic comedies. One of the most interesting aspects is the use of stand up comedy in the film. Nanjiani, alongside Bo Burnham and Aidy Bryant perform some stand up sets as a younger Kumail and his aspiring comedian friends. This gives the opportunity for a lot of great comedy moments in a really different and interesting way, but surprisingly it also allows for some of the most emotionally raw moments of the film.
The Big Sick is easily the funniest film of the year, and indeed a good few years, but it is also one of the most heartfelt. Nanjiani and Gordon’s story is one that is certainly worthy of being told, and who better to do it justice than the two people who actually lived it?