The Big Sick doesn’t stray away from the ‘Boy Meets Girl’ formula, it improves on it

Director: Michael Showalter Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant Producer: Judd Apatow Runtime: 124 minutes

The whole ‘Boy meets Girl’ shtick seems to have become a staple of Judd Apatow’s career. Usually concerning themselves with a funny American layabout and his/her sudden brush with romance, these films mix situational comedy with some dramatic elements in order to offer a modern spin on the ‘Rom-Com’ experience. However, while Apatow’s name is attached, this is very much Kumail Nanjiani’s film. As such, The Big Sick doesn’t just follow this formula, it improves on it as it demonstrates a high-standard of comedy mixed with some impressive writing to boot, making this Rom-Com one of the funniest and best films of the year.

Our story begins with Kumail: a Pakistani-American comedian, daylighting as an Uber driver in order to fuel his career in comedy. When he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his gigs, the two begin dating, unbeknownst to his family who want him to agree to an arranged marriage. After the couple reach a crisis in their relationship, Emily falls ill and is placed in a medically induced coma, leaving Kumail in the awkward situation of meeting her parents for the first time. As they wait for Emily’s recovery, Kumail juggles hanging with Emily’s parents, trying to kick-start his comedy career and fighting with the fact that Emily might wake up only to finish their relationship.

What gives The Big Sick that extra something special is the fact that this is the true story of how Kumail Nanjiani met his wife (and co-writer on the film) Emily V. Gordon. Taking from their real-life meet cute, the duo merge the genuinely dramatic moments and the inherent comedy to be found in the situation effortlessly. The jokes land and the tender moments stick in the back of your throat because that genuineness and charm is to be found throughout the entire film.

Considering the serious drought of comedies in 2017, it is so refreshing to finally sit down with a ‘comedy’ that is genuinely smart AND funny: not just by this year’s standards, but by any. A lot of this comes from the character of Kumail himself. Jumping between comedic cynicism and utter geekiness at points, his comedy caters for most appetites, whether it stems from dark humour, cringeworthy moments, topical references or improvisation.

The film also boasts a supporting cast unlike one we have seen in a comedy for a long time. Bo Burnham turns up in a few scenes to almost steal the show from everyone involved, every line Aidy Bryant delivers is absolute gold and the Nanjiani family are an absolute riot. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are absolutely incredible here too – Hunter’s concerned, protective yet vulnerable mother is easily the most interesting character in the film, while Romano’s lovable father is so much fun.

Despite what is shown in the trailers, The Big Sick doesn’t rely on the Pakistani-American culture clash as a source of comedy as much as you would think. Kumail, Emily and their families are normal, everyday people experiencing the everyday crises of life…arguably with a few extreme situations thrown their way (i.e. a coma and an arranged marriage!). The standup storyline isn’t the sole provider of this comedy either, which is a relief considering it has been a crutch for some of Apatow’s other films. Instead, all moments are fair game, meaning the flow of jokes is consistent instead patchy.

Despite an ending that felt like it could have easily shaved 10/15 minutes, The Big Sick is comedy gold, and such a thoroughly enjoyable film. Not only is this the perfect date movie, but it is a great piece of comedy filmmaking which we need more of, considering the current climate!

(4 / 5)
Néil Rogers
About me

Originally hailing from Galway, Film In Dublin kindly adopted Néil to cover film on the other side of the country. With previous experience contributing to and Flirt FM, Néil is a dedicated cinema fan, who believes the only thing better than watching film, is talking about it!


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