One of Sundance Film Festival’s most well-received movies back in January of 2017 was The Big Sick, which is now open in theaters everywhere. This film is uniquely based on the true love story of writer/main character Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan). It not only truthfully captures the challenges of dealing with the cultural differences within families of opposite backgrounds, but also honors the notion that in spite of those differences, you can’t help who you love.
While this is considered a romantic comedy and has a handful of humorous occurrences, there are also some heart wrenching moments that severely change the tone, especially when Emily falls suddenly ill. The unexpected factors that surround this development, build an emotional connection between the characters in a way that is rare and genuine, and ultimately are the better parts of the movie than the comedic bits. The supporting characters of this film, particularly the parents of Kumail (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) and Emily (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter), are just as important to the growth of the story as the leading characters. They are so well portrayed, and completely bring you in to their worlds, giving the audience insight on why they have made the choices they have for themselves and their children. Kumail’s family’s unwavering loyalty to their cultural traditions is shown in a different light than the typical way the situation is depicted in cinema. It is usually glossed over briefly and tends to resolve itself once the family realizes that “love is more important”, but the reality of it is much more accurate here.
One of the most endearing qualities of Kumail is the fact that no matter what cards he is dealt, he never loses his sense of humor. He even tries to use some of the scenarios that play out in his stand-up comedy routines throughout the movie. On a related note, bringing in Saturday Night Live cast members and comedy legends to some of the roles is an extremely smart move. Even more noteworthy is the interaction and candor between Nanjiani and Romano, any time they are on screen together.
Knowing that this is the actual story of how these two fell in love is why the film is as enjoyable as it is and certainly makes Nanjiani and Gordon more relatable to those who did not already know their story. With that being said, however, this movie has moments that should have shined slightly more than they did. It is a film that is good across the board, but not great.
Rating: 80 “People Say Sam” jokes out of 100 (80%)