a THE BIG SICK musing

Based on the relationship of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon (who wrote the movie together), THE BIG SICK chronicles their courtship, quickly followed by Emily being put into a medically-induced coma, and how their respective families deal with their children’s lives. Autobiographical in nature, the story brings to the forefront the difficulties of first generation immigrant children and balancing priorities in love and life. Kumail Nanjiani does an excellent job playing himself, anchoring a wonderful ensemble cast with no weak links.

After Nanjiani, an up-and-coming comedian in Chicago, completes his stand-up set, he chats up a beautiful woman, Emily, and they quickly become infatuated with each other and begin dating. The movie spends plenty of time establishing just how close they become and how naturally right they are for each other. Things get complicated, of course, because of Kumail’s traditionally Muslim family wanting him to be Muslim, to be exactly as what they want, attempting time after time to arrange a marriage for him. They break up shortly after, and then Emily falls ill and must be put into a medically-induced coma so she may be operated on. Kumail decides to be there for her and comes to meet her parents, whom he bonds with.

THE BIG SICK follows a lot of romantic comedy tropes, but the themes are explored with great insight and gut-busting humor. The comedy is so well placed and never feels out of placed. Some jokes, especially coming from Kumail’s stand-up comedian buddies (played by Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant and Kurt Braunholer), don’t land, but they come naturally for those characters and are delivered with such heart, it’s hard not to laugh. But as for the big swings they take, the whole theater couldn’t stop laughing for whole minutes after.

In its quieter scenes, this movie really hits it out of the park. Because the writers actually lived these moments, you can’t help but feel the weight and the authenticity to which each scene holds. The whole cast expertly navigates these scenes, helped by a wonderful script that makes every character relatable in some way, no matter how far they may feel. The only real problem I had was the inconsistencies between takes (i.e. a clock showing 6:07, then 6:04 a scene later; a completely different date for a specific event on different platforms), which could have been easily fixed. 

This movie is easily one of my favorites of the year, with its willingness to dive deep into its themes, its effectiveness of eliciting emotion and laughs, and its big heart. There’s something to love for everybody here, and the comedy is absolutely perfect. I cannot recommend this movie enough.


(Refer to my rating system HERE!)