I first read about The Big Sick in PEOPLE Magazine and I was immediately intrigued. The movie tells the real life love story of Silicon Valley actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. The film is produced by Judd Apatow (an instant sign of greatness) for Amazon Studios (who also produced Manchester By The Sea).
In the film, Kumail plays himself and Emily is played by actress Zoe Kazan. You may remember her from the 2012 movie Ruby Sparks. Kumail and Emily meet when he is on stage performing a stand up act and she heckles him. After his set, they sit at the club's bar and start to get to know each other. Kumail is equal parts charming and awkward, and Emily is both receptive and slightly skeptical.
The chemistry between Kumail and Emily (the characters) felt honest and real. There is one scene in which Emily is staying over Kumail's place for the night and at 3:00am she has to poop. She doesn't want to go to the bathroom in his apartment so makes up five different excuses for why she has to run to the 24-hour diner across the street. When she finally admits the reason for her mad dash, they both burst into a fit of laughter. The scene felt genuine and oh-so-relatable.
After they've been dating for several months, Emily is rushed to the hospital and has to be put into a medically induced coma. It's during that crisis that Kumail meets Emily's parents, played beautifully by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano.
As Emily's mother, Holly Hunter is everything a loving and caring mother would be if her child was in the hospital - demanding, protective, highly emotional and nostalgic. Ray Romano plays Emily's father, Terry, with the same compassion he showed in his role as Hank Rizzoli on Parenthood. Some of my favorite scenes in the movie are when Kumail has one-on-one conversations with Emily's mom or dad.
Outside of this medical emergency, Kumail is hiding his relationship with Emily from his parents and brother, who immigrated to the States from Pakistan and are still planning to arrange a marriage for him. We get to witness many scenes at the family dinner table where Kumail's mother has set up "surprise" visits from young, eligible Pakistani women, who each arrive with their head shot and a short resume. Kumail keeps these photos in a cigar box on his dresser.
So many of the scenes with Kumail's family reminded me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It is true that when families leave their home country and move to the United States, it can be a big challenge to hold on to those traditions and values. I think anyone who comes from one such culture will empathize fully with Kumail throughout the film.
Though the premise may sound a bit depressing, I haven't laughed this hard watching a movie since Bridesmaids. Between Kumail's stand up, his attempts to flirt with Emily, his awkward moments with her mom and dad and him dodging his parents required activities, I was cackling the entire two hours.
The movie is expertly cast and is the perfect mix of funny moments and poignant ones. There is a scene toward the end between Kumail and his dad that had me tearing up. I looked down our row to see if I was the only one blubbering and most of the people in our row were wiping away tears.
At the every end, when the credits roll, Kumail and Emily (the real people) share photos from their courtship and their wedding with funny arrows over each person's head like "Kumail's real dad" or "Kumail - but you already knew that." It was such a sweet, endearing way to close out the film.
You have to see The Big Sick. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you want to stay for the next showing to experience it all over again.