[The Big Sick was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards 2018.]
To be frank, I hadn’t heard of Kumail Nanjiani before watching The Big Sick. And it wasn’t even my idea to watch this movie. The only people I knew in this film were Zoe Kazan (thanks to What If) and Ray Romano. My husband told me that Nanjiani was one of the funniest guys in America and that we absolutely had to watch the movie. So I said yes, we should watch it and lo and behold! We did!
The Big Sick is the true story of how Kumail Nanjiani met his wife Emily Gordon. The couple met when Emily heckled Kumail at one of his first stand-up shows ever. Kumail, being from a Pakistani family settled in America, was an Uber driver back then with dreams of being a stand-up comedian and expected to have an arranged marriage. But fate had other plans and Kumail and Emily ended up marrying. What forms the flesh of the story of The Big Sick between Emily’s heckles and the wedding is to be seen.
While on the surface, The Big Sick seems to be another cheesy, rom-com with the comedy fading away with every frame, it in fact is exactly the opposite. Even in its bleakest moments, the movie manages to hold the comedy it set out with. On paper, Onscreen Emily falling ill and into a coma might seem like an overly exaggerated version of Love Story. But the couple’s real life translates smoothly on to the screen with as much honesty as is possible in a story of this kind.
Kumail Nanjiani is wonderful in his poker-faced delivery of the most hilarious lines, thanks to the couple’s extraordinarily simple writing that makes it extraordinary. Or is it that his poker-faced delivery is the thing that makes his lines hilarious? There are times of clarity when I sway to either side, but there’s no one clear winner between the two.
I haven’t seen Emily V. Gordon’s behavior off-screen, but Zoe Kazan as Nanjiani’s wife is very, very convincing. If Emily were fictional, I’d say that she was a very well-written, well-nuanced character. And I guess that’s saying something of the writers as well as the real-life woman who Kazan plays.
The rest of the cast, including Anupam Kher, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, and Zenobia Shroff, are convincing as they could possibly get. Henpecking mothers, and conflicted fathers are a commonality when you look at the world in one light. It is this light that this movie tells the story of, not the other one. [I’m not going to spell it out.]
There is nothing breakthrough about The Big Sick. It is, in fact, the story of Nanjiani’s ex-routine life that ran under the administration of rules that he, like all of us, secretly flouted. It goes from showing seemingly routine romance to the lives of stand-up comedians before they take the stage. The movie, without being too obvious about it, tells you what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to being a comedian. It might seem a bit hazy, but watch the movie and you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.
The Big Sick isn’t the wow-I-cannot-stop-laughing-my-stomach-hurts kind of movie. But it does make you laugh, just enough to appreciate laughter. It also makes you emotional, making it a paradox in itself. It is candid, it is true, it is genuine – and most of all, because of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon personally writing their story into the screenplay, it stays true to itself.
So if you want a movie that is real, neat in its storytelling, honest, and genuine, accompanied with laughter and a few tears, watch The Big Sick.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Until next time, keep reading, keep watching, and add melodrama to your life! 🙂