By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
The films Judd Apatow produces don’t often feel like they should be comedies, tackling subjects like unplanned pregnancies, mid-life crises, professional malaise, and other straight dramatic territory.
Being a virgin at 40 years old.
The Big Sick might take the cake, though. Based on the real-life relationship of comedian and entertainers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, the film covers their meet cute. You know, comedy show heckling, classic horror movies, breaking up because your boyfriend’s Pakistani family would ostracize him if he doesn’t enter into an arranged marriage with an ethnically appropriate woman, being the only one available to sign off on putting your ex-girlfriend into a medically induced coma… you know, the usual stuff.
What makes The Big Sick such a resounding success is that its incredibly true to life because it was incredibly true to life, and Nanjiani and Gordon find a way to tell their story authentically while still delivering all of those other hallmarks of a top of the line Apatow production- both the entirely effective drama and plenty of laughs delivered both by the protagonists (played by Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan), their parents (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff & Holly Hunter and Ray Romano respectively), and a cast of comic ringers that all steal whatever scenes they can wrest away from the main crew (Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler, and especially the winningly toxic Bo Burnham).
Didn’t this guy used to be on MTV or Disney or something?
In particular, the film becomes something uniquely interesting after the meet cute has become a nightmare and Nanjiani is thrust into contact with Gordon’s parents and begins to form a strange relationship with them as they navigate the hospital waiting room life together. When, spoiler alert, she wakes up, the film doesn’t shy away from those harsh truths either- her parents may like her ex just fine, but she’s been asleep this whole time, and the last time she interacted with him they were explosively breaking up. It’s… a little much to handle.
The cultural specificity of Nanjiani’s experience growing up the son of a traditional Pakistani family is also extremely engaging. Despite covering some of the same territory that Aziz Ansari has in his own excellent Master of None, Nanjiani’s struggles are quite distinct in and of themselves, and for anybody with a complaint of familiarity, I congratulate you on the only action film you’ve ever watched- Die Hard, and the only horror film you’ve ever watched- Halloween. You’ve made nothing but good choices with your life.
I agree, who needs more Rock n’ Roll when you have Chuck Berry?
The Big Sick resurrects that old Apatow production magic, melding heart and humor in the proportions that recall their best work.
The Big Sick (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every stand-up scene
Take a Drink: for film seen or film referenced
Take a Drink: for every visit to the hospital
Take a Drink: every time Chris gets ragged on
Do a Shot: whenever Kumail is told he’s kicked out of the family