Like every genre, the romantic comedy genre has it’s standard narrative: the meet-cute, the will they or won’t they, the obstacles to the potential couples happiness and finally the happily ever after. While some movies keep to the standard narrative without doing anything new or different, some movies do.
In The Big Sick, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a first generation Pakistani-American Muslim. In his world, marriages are arranged. His family sets up a series of meet and greets with potential wives, but none of them click. An Uber driver by day and a stand up comedian by night, Kumail lives a life that is far from the traditional way of life his family is used to living.
Emily (Zoe Kazan) is a grad student. She meets Kumail at one of the comedy clubs he works at and they start dating. Two problems quickly arise: the first is that Kumail is hiding his relationship with Emily from his parents and Emily gets sick. Her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) at first are not too pleased to have Kumail hanging around with them at the hospital, but then they slowly warm up to him. By the end of the film, two questions must be answered: will Emily and Kumail have some version of a happy ending and will Kumail tell his parents the truth about Emily?
The film is based upon the early relationship of it’s male lead and his real life wife, Emily V. Gordon. Among romantic comedies it stands out not only because of the diversity of the characters, but it also speaks to a modern audience. Regardless of religion or family background, there are many young adults and adults who have chosen move away from the traditional life that they were raised with. There are also many who have married outside of their culture and/or religion, to the dismay of their relations.
While it was a little long for my taste, it was funny and romantic because it felt real and normal. It was not over the top, it was not kitschy and it was just predictable enough without seeing the ending a mile away.
I absolutely recommend it.
The Big Sick is presently in theaters.