Title: The Big Sick
Released: 2017

Fix: Cross-Cultural Rom Com with Hospital Dramz
Platforms: Amazon Prime (among, uh, other places)

Amazon Summary:

A couple deals with their cultural differences as their relationship grows.

FYA Summary:

(Side note: is that not the most sparse description of this movie ever?)

You know how some couples have origin stories that are “Omg this should totally be a movie” good? Well, that’s what happened with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, who wrote a movie based on theirs. (So, spoiler alert.)

Aspiring stand-up comedian Kumail isn’t supposed to be with grad student Emily. After all, his parents have been trying to arrange a marriage between him and a Pakistani girl. Also unexpected: Emily suddenly falling ill and being put into a medically induced coma. Can their budding relationship possibly survive? Can she? (OK, I just told you that yes and yes, but trust me, the movie still manages to bring the tension.)

Familiar Faces:

Kumail Nanjiani as Kumail

I don’t really know why I became familiar with Kumail (maybe someone else’s podcast?), but he’s always great whenever he shows up. And this is quite literally the role he was born to play.

Zoe Kazan as Emily

Emily might be in a coma for most of the movie, but Zoe makes the most of her time onscreen with her bright and charming portrayal. She and Kumail the actor also manage to bring great, swoony chemistry to their characters’ relationship in a short amount of screen time. (Efficient!)

Holly Hunter as Emily’s mom, Beth

Given the rocky terms that Kumail and Emily were on before her illness manifested, Beth is in tough-as-nails Mama Bear mode during her interactions with Kumail.

Ray Romano as Emily’s dad, Terry

Everybody Loves Raymond is more laid back as Emily’s dad, who matches his wife’s glasses game and warms up to Kumail first.

Aidy Bryant as Mary

LIL’ BABY AIDY! Anyone who regularly watches SNL (or just the viral videos) knows what a treasure she is, and she brings some of that delightfulness as one of Kumail’s stand-up friends.

Vella Lovell as Khadija

It’s Heather from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! Her screen time is brief, but she does get to have A Moment.

Couch-Sharing Capability: High

Not only is this a feel-good rom-com, but now it’s, like, a prestigious one with an Oscar nomination and shizz. It shouldn’t be hard to find a movie buddy (I saw it with a doctor BFF*), but it’s also great to watch solo, too.

*Verdict: Medically accurate, but the doctors did a few super iffy things Because Plot.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Not Necessary

The movie’s actually good, so booze isn’t needed for enjoying it. There are some deliberately cringe-y, uncomfortable moments that might call for alcohol, but also conversely, some of the jokes are so good that I would have had many a spit take were I to be drinking something. Specifically, there’s a dark joke that made me and my friend guffaw heartily. (It involves an item from the Bag of Devotion.)

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent

This is a labour of love in every sense: it exists because of love, and every scene is crafted with love. Kumail and Emily get to tell their own love story, and it’s, well, lovely. It’s also quietly groundbreaking for such a buzzworthy movie to have an Asian male romantic lead, as well as a Pakistani American family at the forefront. So if you give The Big Sick a chance, maybe you’ll love it, too.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.