By Kiana Hunter
Based on the clash of traditional and modern Pakistani culture in American society, ‘The Big Sick,’ directed by Michael Showalter, touches on the themes of love, tradition, and stereotypes. The movie begins with the protagonist, Kumail Nanjiani, and his love interest, Emily, meeting at his stand-up comedy show. The pair starts dating, but Kumail’s family, strongly rooted in Pakistani cultural traditions, pressures him to marry a Pakistani woman.
To assure that Kumail gets married, his mother invites a new Pakistani woman to every family dinner they have. Although annoyed, he does not directly reject the women his mother brings to dinner until he realizes that his relationship with Emily is more than a short-lived fling. Kumail’s brother, Naveed, warns that if he were to date Emily he would be the ultimate cliche of a standard romantic comedy. Naveed also warns him that he would be kicked out and shamed by his family, specifically his mother, who ignores his existence after finding out the truth about his white girlfriend. Recognizing his true love, Kumail finally finds the courage to reject the Pakistani women that his mother forces onto him.
Overall, I liked the connection between the couple and the chemistry of the actors. Because the film is based on Nanjiani’s real life story, it felt authentic. The one-night stand developing into a relationship was deeply moving and romantic. The film also played on stereotypes, such as having Kumail work as a Pakistani Uber driver, but ultimately proved to the audience that he could be a more dynamic character than his white roommate, Chris.
Although the film was based on a true story, the ending was cliché. If the movie was ended on the basis of a cliffhanger, it would have been more effective in catching the audience’s attention.
I give ‘The Big Sick’ an 8/10. It differs from the standard romantic comedy, where interracial love stories are treated in superficial ways. Despite their cultural differences, the characters realize just how similar they are as human beings seeking love. Heartwarming and empowering, ‘The Big Sick’ will make you sick with laughter.