When Pakastan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon set out to write a romantic comedy about how they fell in love, they studied the best.
“Yeah watched a lot of them,” sais Nanjiani. “We watched When Harry Met Sally a bunch. We watched Four Weddings and a Funeral a bunch. We watched Notting Hill a bunch.”
That's how they say they discovered what makes rom-coms connect with audiences.
“I think they're all about something more than just the central couple,” said Nanjiani. “So like Sleepless in Seattle is great because it's about grieving and moving on really.”
Without getting message-y, The Big Sick gives us a seat at the table with a Muslim American family. But just when you think you're watching a comedy about a clash of cultures, The Big Sick takes a dramatic turn that could only happen in real life.
Shortly after they began dating, Gordon fell ill and was put into a medically induced coma so doctors could figure out how to save her life.
“It was really emotional writing it,” said Nanjiani. “It was really emotional for me acting in it and for Emily being on set it was emotional. It was emotional editing it. It was emotional watching it “
For five years the couple had been working on the project with producer Judd Apatow.
“I just thought it was a very original unique love story,” said Apatow. “Everything about it I thought 'I haven't heard this before' and Emily and Kumail are so sincere and sweet . They love each other so much . They have this really bizarre way their whole thing started.”
There are tears and there is laughter, mostly coming from Nanjiani's interactions with Gordon's chilly parents played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter.
“Falling in love with someone hopefully involves falling in love with their family,” says Gordon. “Or accepting them.”
There's a reason The Big Sick is winning audience awards at film fests. It deserves a place right next to the classic romantic comedies.