The Big Sick is a 2017 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Michael Showalter and written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani.
Film stars Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Adeel Akhtar, and Anupam Kher, and follows an interracial couple that has to deal with their cultural differences, loosely based on the real-life romance between Nanjiani and Gordon.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2017. It began a limited theatrical release on June 23, 2017, by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate, before going wide on July 14, 2017. It received positive reviews, becoming one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2017. With a budget of $5 million, it has grossed more than $50 million worldwide, becoming one of the highest-grossing independent films of 2017.
Kumail is a young Chicago standup comedian who drives for Uber and performs at night. His traditional Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents set their son up with many Pakistani women to encourage him to follow their example of an arranged marriage. During a show Kumail is heckled by Emily, a non-Muslim woman in the audience. After the show he approaches her, and what begins as a one-night stand soon blossoms into a relationship.
Kumail has a complicated relationship with his family and native culture, uninterested in Islam or arranged marriage but insisting on performing a poorly received one-man show about his early life in Pakistan. He does not tell his family about Emily as they would disapprove and disown him, and avoids meeting her parents. Emily finds pictures of the women Kumail’s parents have set him up with. When Kumail says he cannot lose his family so does not see a long-term future with her, Emily ends their relationship.
Kumail learns that Emily has been taken to the hospital after fainting. A doctor tells him that Emily has a serious lung infection and must be immediately placed in a medically induced coma with tracheal intubation. He signs the permission form and calls her parents, Beth and Terry. Aware that Kumail hurt their daughter they assure him that he is no longer needed, but Kumail chooses to stay and the three become close as they deal with Emily’s illness.
Surgery is ineffective and the infection spreads to Emily’s kidneys. Beth wants to transfer Emily to a different hospital, but Kumail and Terry disagree. Beth and Terry argue, and she brings up Terry’s past. That night, Terry stays with Kumail and reveals that he cheated on Beth. Terry’s story helps Kumail realize that he cares deeply about Emily. Kumail’s parents visit his apartment, angry that he is not taking their marriage suggestions seriously. Kumail tells them that he does not want an arranged marriage and reveals his relationship with Emily; as he feared, his parents disown him. As Kumail prepares for an audition for the Montreal Comedy Festival, he learns that the infection has reached Emily’s heart. Emotionally distraught, Kumail fails the audition because all he can talk about is his fear that Emily will die.
Emily awakens from her coma. The doctors explain she has adult-onset Still’s disease, a very rare but treatable illness which Kumail inadvertently helped them diagnose. Still bitter from their break-up, Emily tells Kumail to leave. Beth invites Kumail to Emily’s welcome home party. In private, Kumail asks Emily to take him back, but she again says no.
Kumail plans to move to New York City with two comedian friends. Before he leaves he again performs the one-man show on Pakistani culture, and tells his family about his plans to leave the city but refuses to allow his family to disown him. Emily discovers the video of Kumail’s disastrous performance and visits him after his one-man show, where he tells her about New York. Although disappointed, she tells Kumail she appreciates everything he did for her while she was in a coma.
At a performance in New York, Kumail is heckled by someone in the crowd; he sees that it is Emily. During the credits, photos are shown from the actual courtship and wedding of Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, including photos of his family attending the ceremony.
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