Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl falls into coma, boy tries to get girl back—it’s your typical rom-com movie. Just kidding. The Big Sick breathes new life into a genre that some say has long been on life support.

The Big Sick, now available at the Box, is one of the year’s most critically-acclaimed films and one with growing Oscar buzz, rare for a comedy. Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, co-wrote the script based on their own story. Kumail stars as a struggling Chicago comedian whose tradition-bound immigrant parents are bent on him marrying a Pakistani woman, and would disown him if he dated outside his Muslim faith. One night on stage, Kumail engages with Emily (Zoe Kazan), an audience member. They banter, they click, and a one-night stand blossoms into something deeper.

“Comedy is hard,” a British actor famously proclaimed on his death bed, but for Kumail, love is even harder, especially when Emily learns that he has not told his parents he is dating a white woman. After their breakup, he learns that she is in the hospital. There, he meets her parents (Ray Romano and Oscar-winner Holly Hunter), whom Emily has told about him. Suffice to say, they do not appreciate the presence of the man who broke their daughter’s heart. When Emily is put into an induced coma, Kumail refuses to leave her side, and he and the parents begin to bond, albeit awkwardly (a conversation with her father about 9/11 yields one of the film’s most squirm-inducing laughs).

The romance at the heart of The Big Sick is at once uniquely specific and universal as it delves into issues of culture, heritage, tradition and assimilation, making it this year’s great American love story.

 

By: Redbox Writer, Donald Liebenson