Top 100 Films Of The 2010’s – #47 – The Big Sick (2017)

RELEASED: 28th July 2017

DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter

CAST: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler, Vella Lovell, Jeremy Shamos, David Alan Grier, Ed Herbstman, Shenaz Treasury, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Kuhoo Verma, Mitra Jouhari, Celeste Arias, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Linda Emond, Susham Bedi and Rahul Bedi



AWARDS: None (1 Academy Award nomination)

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash and becomes even more complicated when Emily contracts a mysterious illness.


tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry, who he’s never met, while dealing with his beliefs and pressures from his parents to select on arranged marriage.


The Big Sick is a film that is loosely based on the real-life romance between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who both wrote the script. The film focuses on Pakistan-born Kumail, with him and his family now living in Chicago. He’s a struggling stand-up comedian with a one-man show about his Pakistani background, as well as working as an Uber driver. One night after one of his standup sets he meets and connects with grad student Emily and a one-night stand ends up blossoming into a real relationship, though that’s complicated by Kumail’s parents in that he’s expected to follow their example of an arranged marriage. After Emily breaks up with Kumail when she discovers this complication, Emily soon becomes hospitalised and is immediately placed in an induced coma. This leads to Kumail meeting Emily’s parents and trying to juggle a life between his standup, being there for Emily and trying to keep everything a secret from his family. The Big Sick is one of the rare romantic comedies of the decade that had me completely engaged from start to finish, even with their playfulness and how adamant they are that they aren’t dating while they clearly are, is what pulls you in in the first act of the film. Once the film reaches a serious turn with their breakup and Emily’s sudden induced coma however is where the drama really picks up as he still can’t bring himself to tell his family about the white women who’s become a part of his life due to the fear of being cast out from the family and then there’s meeting Emily’s parents Terry and Beth, placing him in an uncomfortable position of getting to know them under dire circumstances, especially with his breakup with their daughter still so raw. Kumail’s interactions with Terry and Beth are great to watch, particularly in how distant Beth keeps him until one racist heckler at the comedy club leads to an olive branch for them to converse and open up to one another. Kumail’s interaction with his own parents however is just as amusing to watch, as every family dinner leads to another setup for potential arranged marriage material, and it’s played for more laughs in how his mother Sharmeen acts surprised every time they arrive at their doorstep. The problem however with Kumail is while his parents are devout muslims that insist that he carry on their cultural traditions, particularly that of an arranged marriage, yet Kumail is conflicted on not to who he is as a person, but also in what his beliefs are. The dialogue from the script I found humorous and heartwarming in the right moments, the film is well directed by Michael Showalter and the performances from the overall cast helps elevate the material. Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff are great as Kumail’s parents (especially Shroff), Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are also great as Emily’s parents, with Hunter being really great as Beth, particularly in balancing the line between anger and frustration in being helpless as her daughter is in a coma. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan are great as Kumail and Emily, with Kumail balancing the fine margins of being sarcastically likeable with how he handles awkward situations/conversations, while Zoe is likeable and strong-minded as Emily. The film tackles some romantic comedy tropes that Im glad they put their own spin on it that made it stand out from the rest in the 2010s.


FAVOURITE SCENE: Kumail is in the middle of performing onstage at a comedy night with Terry and Beth in attendance when a heckler tells Kumail to go back to ISIS. This leads to Beth calling out the heckler and a brawl nearly ensues.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: “You’ve never talked to people about 9/11?

No what’s your, what’s your stance?

What’s my stance on 9/11? Oh um, anti. It was a tragedy, I mean we lost 19 of our best guys.” – Terry & Kumail

DID YOU KNOW: Kumail Nanjiani personally contacted Anupam Kher about taking the role of his father, Azmat. Kher accepted the role after learning that Nanjiani’s real father personally expressed a desire for him to take the role.

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