There have been some real classics in the rom-com genre, and not all of them star Hugh Grant! Amidst Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Love Actually, there are gems like Say Anything and Pretty in Pink and now, almost a decade after the age of the rom-com started to grow stale comes a fresh and funny true love story that breathes new life into the genre: The Big Sick.
It’s a classic tale of boy meets girl. Kumail (Nanjiani), an aspiring comedian, meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) in a bar after a gig and the two begin a sweet and funny courtship. Knowing that his family will not accept the match, Kumail keeps the romance a secret, but when Emily gets hospitalized with a threatening infection, he must face some hard truths. As the doctors puzzle over what the infection is, Kumail goes through an intense round of the waiting game with her parents, making some important self-discoveries in the process.
Written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani about their own courtship, The Big Sick takes the worn out tropes of the rom-com and twists them about to create a new and fresh type of movie. Everything about this film is real! The story, in all its glorious sweetness and awkwardness is a spot-on depiction of modern dating, cultural attitudes, and people in general. The clichés of romantic comedy are completely done away with and those that aren’t draw attention to how ridiculous they are to very funny effect.
But what is most pleasing about the film is the characters and the performances of the cast. When asked in an interview on Tribute Movies, what was the toughest moment to recreate, Nanjiani said, “the stuff when Emily gets in the hospital, going through that was very difficult and having to live through that again for this movie was very emotional.” Nanjiani’s performance is wonderful from start to finish; he’s funny, he’s sweet, he’s genuine and during the film’s more emotional and harrowing scenes where you wonder ‘will they make it’, he just did so well! I cried when he cried, I laughed when he wanted me to, and I was completely behind him from beginning to end. Then we have Zoe Kazan as Emily: this bright, sparky, and intellectual delight of a woman. It’s almost impossible not to be enchanted by Kazan in this film and she too delivers the drama beautifully. But I think Ray Romano and Holy Hunter as Emily’s parents were my favourite. The casting was perfect with those two with Romano being awkward and, I guess Romano-esque, and Hunter going a million miles a minute. They balanced off each other perfectly and stand alongside Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand (Meet the Fockers) and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson (Easy A) as greatest movie parents of all time.
Whilst romantic comedies have never really gone out of style, the genre has taken a battering in recent years, but The Big Sick reshapes, refines, and reanimates a tired genre that had been labeled as ‘for girls’. Audiences of all sexes, backgrounds, and ages can take something away from this movie, it’s a gorgeously fresh and endearing comedy!