One cliche of movie hyperbole that always attracts my attention is the annual “sleeper hit of the summer.” Add in “Sundance favourite” and I’m sold. This summer, The Big Sick is that film.
This romantic comedy premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year where it was a huge hit. It also went down well at the South by Southwest Film Festival (where it won the Festival Favorites Audience Award) and the Seattle International Film Festival, and has garnered universally favourable reviews since its widespread theatrical release earlier this month.
Don’t let the plot description put you off
“Boy meets girl. Boy and girl break up. Girl gets sick and becomes comatose. Boy figures out his true feelings for girl, with a little help from both sets of parents.” This illustrates how easy it is to make any movie sound lame by reducing it to a tweet-length description of the main plot. I often struggle to persuade my family to watch a certain movie, when all they want to know is what it’s about. My vain attempt to describe the plot generally leaves them exclaiming, “That sounds boring.” “But it has got great reviews” I say. “Look at the tomatometer!” Given the groans that follow this statement, you’d think I’d have learnt to bite my tongue by now. The tomatometer for The Big Sick currently stands at 98% fresh, by the way.
Other selling points
So, what more could I say to convince a sceptic to give this movie a chance. As the tagline says, it’s “An Awkward True Story.” Hmm, maybe not the best tagline in the history of moviemaking. The (boy) star is Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, writer, and actor. He and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, wrote the script for The Big Sick, which is loosely based on their real-life relationship. The (girl) star playing the Emily role is Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of Elia Kazan!). Rounding out the main cast are the parents played by Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, and Zenobia Shroff. That’s some pretty stellar acting talent there.
One other selling point for this movie, as evidenced by the prominence of the notice at the top of the promotional poster, is that this is a Judd Apatow production. Other movies that Judd Apatow has produced include The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Knocked Up (2007) (both of which he also wrote and directed), Bridesmaids (2011), and Trainwreck (2015) (which he also directed). Perhaps more persuasive is the fact he was also responsible for the classic television series Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000). One more reason to give this sleeper hit a go.
Iain Pardoe is an online university instructor who enjoys the movies of Hayao Miyazaki even more than the kids and loves rewatching favourites from his youth with his family when he’s not playing soccer or skiing.