Film & Television

‘The Big Sick’ — One Mother of a Rom-Com

Why do we love romantic comedies so much? I think it’s because of the possibility of it all. It’s possible that you could meet your soul-mate on an airplane or in a bookstore or behind the wheel of an Uber. It’s possible that a relationship that begins as hate-at-first-sight could blossom into true love. It’s possible that after countless misunderstandings squeaked into ninety minutes of screen time, you could live happily ever after.

All those things are possible. But not very probable. For most of us, real-life is not, alas, a rom-com. Unless, you’re very funny, very lucky, or both.

Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani have taken their unlikely real-life story (which hinges on both humor and luck) and turned it into this summer’s most delightful movie: The Big Sick. Directed by Michael Showalter and produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel, the film stars Nanjiani as himself and the adorable Zoe Kazan as Emily.

The plot, although based on the couple’s true story, is reminiscent of other popular romantic comedies (1995’s While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock and a comatose Peter Gallagher immediately comes to mind). Kumail is an aspiring stand-up comic. Emily is in the audience one evening. They hook-up. But, they both need to focus on their careers (she’s in grad school, studying psychology). They agree not to get involved. They get involved. They break up. Emily gets sick and is placed in a medically induced coma. Kumail keeps vigil with her parents at the hospital, realizing how much he loves her.

But, will she wake up? Will she love him too? Will her parents accept him? Will his parents accept her?

C’mon folks. This is a romantic comedy. (And we already know who wrote it, remember?) After blessedly few final complications, they actually do end up together. And if co-writing a hit movie is any indication, they are living happily ever after indeed.

The Big Sick is a big hit. Audiences love it. Critics love it. It has a 97% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It has grossed nearly $25 million to date. Not exactly Wonder Woman figures, but given that The Big Sick’s production budget was a modest $5 million, not too shabby either. The movie, which includes an important plot line about Kumail’s immigrant Pakistani family, as well as his challenges as a Muslim comedian, is fresh and timely in today’s political environment. The two stars are endearing; the humor is smart and so dry that you catch yourself thinking, “Oh wait, that’s a joke. Um. Isn’t it?”

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  • Lindsey Kinsella July 29, 2017 at 6:59 am

    I was looking forward to seeing this film until I read, ‘they actually do end up together’. Perhaps I’m naive, but is this a spoiler?