Released in theaters
- Jul, 2017
- 97% – Rotten Tomatoes Critics
- 92% – Rotten Tomatoes Movie Goers
- 85% – Roger Koehler
- Kumail Nanjiani
- Zoe Kazan
- Holly Hunter
- Ray Romano
- Michael Showalter
Deborah and I saw this movie at a Tuesday afternoon budget matinee, or should I say almost did not see it. There is a bit of a dearth of movies with seeming potential here in mid July 2017. Other possibilities included Wonder Woman and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Both of those movies have, somewhat surprisingly, received 90 plus ratings from Rotten Tomatoes professional movie critics, and almost as high from their movie goers as well.
But Deborah first noticed this little movie and suggested it to me. My initial reaction was underwhelming, to be sure. From her sparse description, it just did not seem like something in which I would be interested. The title of the movie also threw us both off a bit – The Big Sick? Although after watching the movie, I know where that comes from, for it to be used as the title of the movie is a bit of a mystery. But don’t let that throw you off as well.
When faced with only a few other options, I looked further into the reviews for The Big Sick and I took a look at the movie trailer. Both the reviews and the trailer caught my intention so that is what we decided to see.
Official Movie Trailer
We are both very pleased that we did. This small, I’m sure low budget, romantic comedy with a twist, was very enjoyable. I had learned in doing research that it was based upon a true story. In fact, the lead actor in the movie – Kumail Nanjiani – co-wrote the screenplay along with his real life wife Emily Gordon, and he starred as himself. The story relates most of the actual events that occurred in the first year that Kumail and Emily met.
The role of Emily is played in the movie by actress Zoe Kazan. Zoe is the granddaughter of noted movie director, Elia Kazan. She has been a pretty busy actress, having appeared in over 20 films and multiple TV series since 2007. You might also enjoy another romantic comedy in which Zoe starred – the 2013 film What If, co-starring Daniel Radcliff (aka Harry Potter).
Kumail is a Pakistan born naturalized American who moved to the United States with his family when he was young. He is a struggling stand-up comic at a comedy club in Chicago. Along with his band of fellow comics, they harbor dreams of making the big time.
Kumail meets Emily when she good naturedly heckles him during one of his sets. Their meeting turns into a one-night stand, and that in turn unexpectedly turns quickly into a serious relationship. But Kumail’s family has other plans for him. Their Muslim heritage demands that Kumail must marry a Pakistani girl in an arranged marriage. Fearing the loss of his family, Kumail keeps his relationship with Emily a secret from his parents, and he also keeps their plans for him a secret from Emily.
After Emily learns of Kumail’s background, and his family’s plans for him – which he does not completely disavow – they break up. But then the story takes an unexpected turn when Emily is hospitalized and placed into a medically induced coma until her condition can be diagnosed. During this time, Kumail meets Emily’s parents. Her mother is played by Holly Hunter (Grace Annadarko from TV’s Saving Grace, and also Academy Award winning best actress in the 1993 movie The Piano). Her father is played by Ray Romano (best known for TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond).
From this point, the story revolves around attempts to diagnose Emily’s condition as well as Kumail’s efforts to establish a relationship with her parents – one which they are initially very reluctant to allow.
Ray Romano’s character is an interesting one. He is supportive of his wife and daughter but also harbors guilt. He is also kind of a mental klutz. At one point, upon meeting Kumail over lunch, he asks a pretty ridiculous question of Kumail. He says that he has always wanted to ask a Muslim what their reaction was to 9/11. Kumail just kind of looks at him, as if to say, “Are you for real?”. Then in one of the great dark comedic lines, he says: “It was a tragedy (long pause). We lost 19 of our finest.” When Romano obviously doesn’t get it, Kumail quickly apologizes for the bad joke.
One of the more perceptive reactions I have read to this movie is, to paraphrase, “You know where the movie is headed, but you enjoy the trip nonetheless”. I could not agree more. Knowing ahead of time that this is a true story allows you to forgive some things which might otherwise have been considered simply the standard stuff of a romantic comedy.
If you are inclined, I invite you to follow the links I have provided to interviews both with Kumail and the real Emily, or with Kumail and his onscreen Emily – actress Kazan. There are numerous interviews out on You Tube. I have tried to select a couple of the best ones that I was able to find.
Today show interview with Kumail Nanjiani and co-star Zoe Kazan …
Interview with Kumail Nanjiani and the real Emily V. Gordon …