The romantic comedy The Big Sick is the brainchild of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. Apatow Productions and FilmNation Entertainment produced the film, with Amazon Video and Lionsgate handling its distribution. The Big Sick is based on the relationship between Nanjiani and Gordon, exploring the former’s duty to his family and his love for Gordon. Is this a film you’ll fall in love with?


Our first several minutes of the film introduce us to Kumail Nanjiani (who plays himself), giving us a brief overview of his life with his Pakastani family before segueing into his present-day routine. Being an Uber driver is his day job, while at night he acts as a stand-up comic hoping to make it big. A prominent scout has been attending recent comedy shows, trying to procure talent for his upcoming event. Kumail begins his set, though he’s soon good-naturedly heckled by a blond woman. They begin chatting afterwards, and she introduces herself as Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan).

Kumail and Emily hit it off and continue to date, Kumail struggles with his family’s practice of arranged marriages. It’s become a ritual where women conveniently happen to “drop in” while he’s eating with his family. While Kumail’s parents keep bringing in potential soulmates, he’s disinterested in all of them, keeping the pictures he’s given of them in a cigar box. A montage shifting between his family’s customs and the time he spends with Emily portrays his fondness for the latter. Eventually, however, Emily stumbles upon Kumail’s cigar box and looks through its contents, causing a fight to erupt. Kumail admits that his family doesn’t know of her, and they’d forsake him if they did, causing the two to separate.

While this visibly upsets both protagonists, they’re forced back into each other’s lives shortly thereafter. Emily fell unconscious when she was at work, and Kumail heads to the hospital so she has someone there. Unfortunately, she’s suffering from a serious infection, and a doctor informs him that he urgently needs to place Emily in a medically induced coma for surgery. He signs a permission slip allowing this (pretending to be her husband while doing so) and informs Emily’s parents of their daughter’s condition. Terry (Ray Romano) and Beth (Holly Hunter) are aware of how he hurt Emily and are therefore initially distant to him, but Kumail sticks around regardless out of concern. The three spend a lot of time together, allowing Terry and Beth to warm up and grow close to him.

Emily’s condition grows worse as Kumail’s parents grow more impatient with their son. Kumail neglects to show up to their latest set up, instead prioritizing a comedy show Emily’s parents attended. His parents confront him at his apartment, demanding an explanation for his behavior. Kumail admits he doesn’t pray, he doesn’t understand why they brought him to America only to continue to act as if they were in Pakistan, and he doesn’t know yet what his worldviews are, but he does know he has a potential future with Emily, a white woman. His parents, as his brother (Adeel Akhtar) previously warned him, disown him.

Kumail chats with a nurse, asking about Emily’s illness and remarks how her mom wants to transfer her to another hospital. The nurse assured him they’re doing everything for Emily and moving her now would be dangerous. Further exasperating Kumail’s delicate mood, Emily’s parents eventually agree to transfer her to the top-rated hospital, a process he believes would threaten her life. He later explodes that night when a fast food worker refuses to fulfill his specific order, and his mood seeps into his comedy routine when he unloads to his silent audience over his current troubles.

Emily eventually awakens from her coma, with her parents and Kumail present, although she’s unaware of why Kumail would be there. Without spoiling any more of the plot, the movie progresses appropriately, with all of its threads receiving a fitting, emotional resolution. It was a charming ending, giving the audience a solid insight into Kumail’s future.

Overall, The Big Sick was enjoyable. Our protagonist’s inner turmoil, where he weighed his family’s acceptance and expectations of him versus his desire to follow his heart was interesting to watch, and the movie’s comedic overtones never overshadowed it. It was also interesting to see the more impersonal interactions Kumail had with his own parents as opposed to the more relaxed connection he forged with Emily’s. All of the actors and actresses did a commendable job in their roles, and the film’s score and cinematography was likewise suitable.

The Big Sick offers a commentary track that overlays the movie, as well as deleted scenes that didn’t make the final cut. A 14.49-minute documentary titled “A Personal Journey: The Making of The Big Sick” shows the cast discussing their roles in the movie and how its story resonated with them. “The Real Story,” as its name suggests, is a 7.11-minute video of Kumail and his real-world wife discussing their relationship, how it blossomed and how it inspired the film. It also can serve as an epilogue of sorts to the movie, given how it discusses their lives after Emily woke from her coma. Other prominent bonuses include The Big Sick‘s 2017 SXSW Film Festival panel and a tour based around the movie.

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