Every year there’s a movie out of the Sundance Film Festival that’s absolutely charming. This year, it was Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s autobiographical rom-com, The Big Sick. With Michael Showalter at the helm, audiences were in for the year’s best rom-com, and one of the year’s best films period. Armed with a supporting cast of comedy heavyweights, Kumail and Emily take us on a rollercoaster of a relationship, but aren’t scared to show the reality on the sidelines. Yes, The Big Sick may be another movie where boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, girl falls into coma, boy falls in love with girl’s parents while she’s in the coma, but there’s so much truth and hilarity that I would follow this couple anywhere for the rest of their lives.
Kumail (Nanjiani playing a version of himself) is a Pakistani-born Uber driver/standup comedian in Chicago. One night he meets Emily (Zoe Kazan) after an episode of heckling and the two hit it off immediately. Both may be hesitant to fall for someone so quickly, but they are obviously smitten at first heckle. Kumail has to hide his relationship from his family — parents Azmat and Sharmeen (Anupam Kher and Zenobia Shroff) and his brother Naveed (Adeel Akhtar) — because they all want him to be happy and settle for an arranged marriage. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when Emily falls into a coma due an to an infection and gets even more complicated with the arrival of Emily’s parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano). With Emily in a coma, and her parents knowing the couple broke up right before the incident, everyone must find a way to make peace with each other for the sake of Emily’s health.
Lionsgate presents The Big Sick on a spacious 50GB disc, in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For a film with zero action, a disc that size may be surprising. But even with a standard amount of special features, it still can’t alleviate the picture from inherited source issues. Aside from one instance of banding, the picture is relatively perfect— for this type of film. Contrast runs natural helping the natural lighting maintain plenty of depth in the shadows of the backstage of the comedy club. It also helps provide plenty of detail when Kumail and other characters are hanging out in his apartment; even more so his bedroom.
In brighter scenes, namely in the hospital, colors are completely pure and detail is excellent. If it weren’t for that one scene of banding this would be a relatively perfect transfer. As expected with such a dialogue heavy film, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is extremely front heavy. Not even during the club scenes is there much in the way of ambiance to draw us into the scene. However, we came here for the jokes anyway, and you won’t miss a single one. An additional Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track is available, along with English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
As if the film wasn’t already fun enough, The Big Sick’s Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo pack comes with a great collection of special features. Hilarity ensues! “A Personal Journey: The Making of The Big Sick” (14:49) features footage of the cast and crew, including Kumail revealing that a board covered with hospital visitor passes is real, and how it was interesting to confront two very different perspectives to their life story between how Kumail and Emily experienced. Kumail mentions that this is the first time his parents visited him on set, namely due to Kher’s casting as they are huge fans and he was a special request case of casting. “The Real Story” (7:11) covers more of Kumail and Emily’s real life saga, including how different their parent relationships are.
“2017 SXSW Film Festival Panel” (11:32) has producers Barry Mendel and Judd Apatow joining Kumail and Emily on stage following the SXSW screening in March. As fun as this is, it’s too bad they didn’t include the panel discussion following the Sundance screening I attended way back in January. Some of their reactions to the Q&A are quite different with the film being so much more fresh at Sundance, but I digress. “The Big Sick: The Other Stuff” (3:47) is a fun collection of additional jokes that didn’t make the final cut.
Eight “Deleted Scenes” all could have easily been added back into the film for a director’s cut and no one would have been any wiser that anything was cut in the first place. Included are: “X-Files Party Trick” (0:53), “Uber with Azmat” (0:44), “Visitor’s Parking Lot” (1:11), “People Who Wait” (2:02), “Pee-Shy” (2:04), “How to Get Stage Time” (1:13), “Boating Accident” (1:14), and “Pronunciation Lessons” (0:41). “The Bigger Sick: Stick Around For More Laughs” (10:25) is a backstage pass look at the film’s “Big Sick Comedy Tour” featuring Kumail, Emily, Apatow, Romano, and Kurt Braunohler. Very funny stuff. Rounding things out is a “Cast & Filmmaker Commentary” with Kumail, Emily, Showalter, and Mendel.
The Big Sick is one of the year’s biggest comedy smashes and one of the year’s best films. While some may not find a $51 million worldwide haul much to gawk at, it was obviously made on a very modest budget. When you look at how awful the summer box office was over all, it was one of the biggest hits. If you didn’t catch it in theaters, now is the time to watch at home. Kumail and Emily are bound to find themselves nominated for at least one screenplay category come year end, and the cast are all honest and hilarious. Romano winds up being a scene stealer and makes you realize how missed he’s been — and underused — since Everybody Loves Raymond went off the air. This is a rom-com that is not to be missed. But don’t worry, even if you aren’t currently in your own relationship, you’ll be happy to have made a union with this one.