Kumail Nanjiani‘s comedy, The Big Sick, is based somewhat on his own life experiences. It exposes more than just the soft underbelly of relationship issues exacerbated by family expectations. It touches on a universal truth of the challenges of keeping relationships intact amidst all types of adversity. You may know Kumail Nanjiani from his role as a programmer in HBO’s hilarious comedy, Silicon Valley. If you don’t, you really should seek out that show. It is definitely worth your time, especially if you want a more accurate depiction of “nerd culture” than what one might see in The Big Bang Theory.
Kumail’s love interest, Emily (Zoe Kazan), suddenly gets struck down with an unexplained illness.
The Big Sick also stars Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Holly Hunter (Saving Grace) as her parents. The casting feels so perfect, with Kumail Nanjiani, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter playing off each other so effortlessly, and adding such an honest and genuine portrayal of people in their situation.
More and more comedies in this age tend to border on the extreme, going for gag after gag and throwing in just enough emotion and heart to make the film successful. The Big Sick skips the ridiculous gags and opts for more believable and relatable humor. It delicately balances the story and comedy, never letting the humor overwhelm the characters or the predicaments. The best romantic comedy of the year, The Big Sick never feels like it’s trying. All the jokes fit naturally as they weave through the narrative, keeping even the heaviest moments from weighing down an audience.
Kumail’s culture allows him to approach, from a different angle, the common theme of parents and children not seeing eye to eye. We all struggle, or have struggled, to some extent to find our own paths in life. While a universal hardship, this theme has been done so often, it becomes challenging to make it seem fresh. Kumail’s unique voice does just that, and allows us to experience it hungrily. Even with the premise of a serious illness, The Big Sick manages to garner laughs, from chuckles to gut-busters. The laughs never feel mean-spirited or mocking, but rather they allow us to connect more deeply with the characters in the film. Kumail is not only likable and funny, but completely relatable in so many ways. The Big Sick brings something for everyone. Through invoking laughter, tears, and more laughter, it reminds us of our connections with each other and clearly defines the important things in life. In theaters Friday, you should rush out and see it.