The Big Sick

4/10/2018 19:45.
Cert 15

This highly original romcom is based upon the lives of its writers Kumail Nanjiani, who stars as himself, and Emily V Gordon. A relationship begins when aspiring stand-up comedian and part time Uber driver, Kumail, meets the sparky Emily (Zoe Kazan) at one of his gigs. He has a Pakistani background, and she is white American, so both are aware that there could be problems ahead. Consequently Kumail decides to bring the relationship to an end, but Emily has just become critically debilitated by a mystery illness, and this is the heart of the story. Hence the title The Big Sick. Kumail feels guilty and installs himself at Emily’s bedside, where he has to confront both sides of his predicament in the form of Emily’s and his own parents. “Western viewers will learn more about Pakistan from The Big Sick than from any other US-made romantic comedy they are ever likely to see. [which] goes a long way to explaining what makes the film so original and so charming.” (Geofrey Macnab, The Independent)

Dir: Michael Showalter  117mins   USA 2017


Programme Notes

When you see the name Judd Apatow (producer of Bridesmaids (2011) and Trainwreck (2015)) above the credits, you expect the humour is going to be broad and very bawdy. The title hints that bodily functions might be to the fore. Instead, the film takes its wry, gentle tone from its lead character, Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani). He’s a sweet-natured, Pakistani-American, Chicago-based stand-up comedian and Uber driver who has an incredibly complicated private life and is struggling to overcome the great divide between his Muslim background and the secular world in which he has landed. The film is co-written by Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V Gordon (who is the basis of the Emily Gardner character, played by Zoe Kazan), and is closely based on the story of their own courtship. They first encountered one another when she heckled him at a stand-up gig. In the film, Kumail and Emily have a brief fling with no notion that it will lead to anything serious. He’s a struggling comedian who performs sets at a tiny club alongside his friends and fellow comedians. They all dream of making it to the Montreal comedy festival or even to LA, where they might get to ‘hang out with Elijah Wood and shit’: they’re strictly small-time. She’s a graduate student specialising in psychology. Some of the best scenes in the film, which could easily belong in a sitcom, involve Kumail’s regular visits to his family. His parents, strict Muslims, dote on him but expect him to marry a wife of their choosing and to become a doctor or lawyer.
Acknowledgements: Geoffrey Macnab,

″It’s all to the good that there’s a new movie that stars a South Asian-American actor and details the comedic ordinariness of a Muslim family and milieu but The Big Sick suffers from an excess of pleasantness, and this very pleasantness thins out its substance, blands out its tone, weakens its comedy” Richard Brody,

Leading Players
Kumail Kanjiani     Himself
Zoe Kazan                 Emily Gardner
Holly Hunter            Beth Gardner (Emily’s mother)
Ray Romano             Terry Gardner (Emily’s father)
Bo Burnham             CJ
Zenobia Shroff        Sharmeen

Production Credits
Director                          Michael Showalter
Producer                        Judd Apatow et al
Writers                           Kumail Kanjiani, Emily V  Gordon
Cinematography       Brian Burgoyne
Music                             Michael Andrews
Editor                             Robert Nassau



  • Complex and thoughtful
  • More chick-flicks [heart punctuation] Happy endings!
  • Keep up the good work!
  • Some very funny moments – unusual film. Thanks
  • With its warm humour and likeable characters, this film may have been an emotional experience  but its stellar performances and gradual pacing made it one of the most memorable romantic  comedies of recent years
  • I think I liked it!
  • I enjoyed that – but there were some rough edges!
  • Great warmth in this film. The predictable sentiments could so easily have been banal ….
  • Very sweet but sound quality poor
  • A nice little tale but some mumbled dialogue
  • Slow start but got better [as it went along] but missed much of the dialogue. Subtitles please!
  • Some nice things but it didn’t really work. And I couldn’t understand more than 40% of the dialogue (especially the mother)
  • Haven’t we seen this film several times before?


A:10, B:7, C:6, D:1, E:0 to give 77% from 83% of those present.