The Big Sick is Infectious
Review by Aaron Haughton & Brenda Torres
The Big Sick is a romance comedy written by comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. The film is based on the first year of their relationship, and as the title and trailer reveal, Emily gets sick:
Aaron and I saw that trailer when we were in the theater for Wonder Woman, and immediately looked at each other in mutual agreement that this was one we just had to see. And, I’ll be honest, I can’t remember the last time I was excited about a romance comedy, if at all, ever. However, I was really looking forward to this one, and it definitely delivered.
Part of my aversion for romance comedies is that I sometimes feel as though the comedy portion is a little lacking -- I can maybe let out a few hearty chuckles at best, but most films tend to focus on the sappy relationship aspect. This was not the case with The Big Sick; its strength is that it’s peppered with excellent comedy all throughout the film. I burst out laughing OFTEN. There were even some genuinely heart-wrenching moments that wrestle with the reality of how complicated love can be at times, which isn't generally portrayed in these types of films. Lastly, I really identified with some aspects of Kumail's struggle to balance his culture and beliefs, AND his parents' wishes to uphold them, yet wanting to take his own path.
All in all, I’m thankful for Kumail and Emily sharing their story with us, for their vulnerability, and for the representation of Pakistani culture on the big screen. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and strongly urge you to go see it!
The Big Sick is a fantastic true-life rom-com that will have you rolling with laughter and swelling with tears, which is the film's big strength; weaving between gut-wrenching reality uppercuts, which deal with lofty, real-world struggles, and uproarious comedic jabs, which essentially ground the narrative and its (at times) heavy subject matter. All of this culminates in a touching, heart-warming, down to earth, funny as hell, one of a kind relationship film.
It begins as a cliched rom-com -- the typical boy-meets-girl -- and it's cutesy and fun, but we've seen it over and over. Then, there's a narrative swerve when Emily gets sick and falls into a medically induced coma, which introduces us to Emily's parents, played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. When Emily gets sick, the film examines cultural and family relationships in more microscopic detail, as well as commenting on romantic relationships through Romano and Hunter.
Everything was really on point with this film though. You've got Judd Apatow producing, Michael Showalter directing, and a menagerie of excellent supporting acts, including Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, David Alan Grier, and Adeel Akhtar, not counting the big names like Nanjiani, Romano and Hunter. All the supporting roles in this film absolutely killed, but Holly Hunter takes the cake for me; her character has such surprising range and humanity.
Ultimately, the film takes a turn back to the standard rom-com narrative, but the film's journey is one we haven't really seen before -- or at least not is this sort of captivating capacity. The end of the film is somewhat expected, of course, but doesn't succumb to a cliched finale. Instead, it calls back a memorable conversation from the first act to close it out, giving you a laugh to wipe the tears away with.
I would definitely recommend that you see this film. All of the laughs really land hard -- I don't think I've laughed this hard in the theater since last year's The Nice Guys -- and the drama is felt and may require a tissue. As far as Apatow productions go, this ranks as one of the best. It would make a nice double bill following Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
At the end of the day, The Big Sick is an important story that promotes unity, change, and love; all things the world could benefit more from these days. I'm hoping it sets the bar for rom-coms to come, and ushers in a new era of cinematic diversity.
- Brenda's rating: 5 arranged marriages out of 5.
- Aaron's rating: 4 medically induced comas out of 5.
- Overall rating: 4.5 comedy show hecklers out of 5.
What'd you think of the film? Did you find it touching? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!