REVIEW: ‘The Big Sick’ Is A Triumph Thanks To Great Humor, Meaningful Drama

Once in a while during a summer, a great movie comes out that’s in a genre not associated with super heroes or action stars. “The Big Sick,” a romantic comedy, is one of those flicks.

The picture stars Kumail Nanjiani and is actually inspired by the story of how he met his wife Emily Gordon. The film follows Nanjiani through his life in Chicago as an Uber Driver and a stand-up comedian. By way of the latter, he meets Emily, played in the film by Zoe Kazan, and the two start a relationship. Things get a bit complicated, though, as Nanjiani’s family wants him to marry a Pakistani woman.

The situation becomes more complicated when Emily comes down with a sudden illness just after the couple has a fight and she is placed in a medically induced coma for treatment. This leads to Nanjiani having to balance his relationship with his parents and building a new relationship with Emily’s parents.

Along with Nanjiani starring in the picture, he also co-wrote the film with his wife Emily. As a result, the flick felt very real and personal, making for a heartfelt and sincere viewing experience. As the story evolves from a budding romance to a dramedy revolving around days spent at the hospital, “The Big Sick” remains grounded and relatable.

It’s quite apparent that this is driven by the film’s writing. The fact that this is based on a personal experience and those who lived through the experience wrote the film, the dialogue comes across as natural, allowing the relationships featured to avoid having a lot of clichés.

The first and most important relationship that forms on screen is of course between Kumail and Emily and it easily hooks an audience in for the full movie. Their romance blossoms in a very nice way and you can’t help but want to see the two of them end up together and succeed.

Just as important, though, were the interactions Nanjiani has with Emily’s parents, Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter). Once the film enters the second act and Emily goes into a coma, Nanjiani spends a lot of time with the two characters and they become a major factor in the rest of the picture.

Through this period of the three meeting and speaking with each other, both the parents and Nanjiani have some growth as characters and become well developed for the third act. On top of that, the interactions between the three create much of the film’s comedy, which brings a lot of laughs.

Credit also has to go to how the film dug into Nanjiani’s relationship with his own family, which becomes strained as he distances himself from their culture. Like many of the other scenes, this leads to both some laughs and meaningful moments.

All of that works thanks to some very solid performances, especially from the leads Nanjiani and Kazan. Nanjiani’s performance works both from his ability to handle the more dramatic scenes as well as his deadpan responses for the comedic moments. Kazan, meanwhile, is very bubbly in her role making for a sweet, and at times witty, character in Emily. It helps that the two performers have a ton of onscreen chemistry, too, making the romance feel quite genuine.

Nearly stealing many scenes of the show, though, were Romano and Hunter as Emily’s parents. At first, the two don’t particularly like Kumail, yet as time goes on he starts to win them over. Watching Terry and Beth come to like Kumail is an absolute joy to watch and Romano and Hunter drive this aspect.

“The Big Sick” is the funniest movie of the year so far and because of its dramatic, touching moments regarding Emily’s illness, it sets itself above other standard comedies. Despite being a bit too long and some parts being a little formulaic, this is a very good picture worth checking out. 4.7 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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