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The Big Sick (2017)

2:55 | Trailer
Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations, and his true feelings.


Michael Showalter
1,983 ( 306)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 17 wins & 92 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kumail Nanjiani ... Kumail
Zoe Kazan ... Emily
Holly Hunter ... Beth
Ray Romano ... Terry
Anupam Kher ... Azmat
Zenobia Shroff ... Sharmeen
Adeel Akhtar ... Naveed
Bo Burnham ... CJ
Aidy Bryant ... Mary
Kurt Braunohler ... Chris
Vella Lovell ... Khadija
Myra Lucretia Taylor Myra Lucretia Taylor ... Nurse Judy
Jeremy Shamos ... Bob Dalavan
David Alan Grier ... Andy Dodd
Ed Herbstman ... Sam Highsmith


Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), in the middle of becoming a budding stand-up comedian, meets Emily (Zoe Kazan). Meanwhile, a sudden illness sets in forcing Emily to be put into a medically-induced coma. Kumail must navigate being a comedian, dealing with tragic illness, and placating his family's desire to let them fix him up with a spouse, while contemplating and figuring out who he really is and what he truly believes. Written by Brett Lee Swerbilow (brettswerbilow@gmail.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An Awkward True Story


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Urdu

Release Date:

14 July 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Sick See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$421,577, 25 June 2017

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Kumail makes the joke about 9/11 by saying "It was a tragedy, I mean we lost 19 of our best guys." the original line was "13 of our best guys." but Ray Romano brother, who was NYPD, told Ray that "it was 19 not 13" so the line was changed. See more »


In the opening scene at the Comedy Club we see Mary do part of her set. When she comes backstage where the men are, she is wearing a different outfit and her hairstyle has changed. See more »


Terry: Love isn't easy. That's why they call it love.
Kumail: I don't really get that either.
Terry: I know. I thought I could just start saying something, and something smart would come out.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the beginning of the end credits, photos of shown of the real-life inspiration behind the Emily character, as well as the wedding between Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani and Nanjiani's real-life parents. See more »


References The X-Files (1993) See more »


Sedona Breeze
Written by Evelyne Datl
See more »

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User Reviews

a drama with some very funny moments, and one that is overflowing with truth
3 July 2017 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

At the heart of The Big Sick, which is the story of how Kumail Nanjani met his wife Emily Gordon (no, really, he's basically playing himself, or at least what would see a true version of himself, and Zoe Kazan is Emily - both Nanjani and Gordon wrote the script) and how they had their ups and downs, though the down majorly was when Emily was life-threateningly sick, is this question: what does the truth mean to you? This is a brutally, surprisingly honest movie about honesty, not only in relationships with a significant other (though that's certainly a major part of this), but also with ourselves.

One may be tempted to say Kumail's family are the antagonists of the story. This might be true if one is trying to parse out this or that or the other with the characters, but this is over-simplification. They are an obstacle for Kumail, but really his biggest enemy is himself, how he views what his family has put on him, what his own culture has done to his mind, and at the same time reconciling with being a modern American given all the relative opportunities everyone else has. And it is at heart a love story, but what is likable and appealing is that Nanjani and Gordon cleverly make sure that the attention isn't all gone from having another love story being depicted, that of Emily's parents and their own struggle after so many years of marriage and during a stressful time.

But, of course, this stressful time isn't the only part of why their marriage is frayed (you learn more as it goes on in little bits, and it's important only for character learning/growing sake, so I dare mention it here); Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are the parents, and for the first time ever, by the way, Romano is *affable* and fun on screen. This is my own bias as I wasn't a fan of his sitcom, but more to the point I didn't get his appeal as a star or an actor or any kind of comic presence. Here I actually do as he's playing a guy who is like how one pictures a lot of dads, stumbling over some words in the presence of the guy his daughter's dating (that he's of middle-eastern descent brings up an awkward conversation at the hospital cafeteria that rolls into the biggest laugh of the movie, by the way), but he feels as real as the mother does, and the vulnerability he's in - doing things like writing down as much as he can, every medical term, when the doctors describe what's going on with their daughter - is so thick you couldn't suck it through a straw. He's so good here as is Hunter, as is everyone really, including all of Nanjani's family.

It can be difficult to depict a relationship on film, any relationship, due sometimes to what the genre of a romantic comedy or a romantic drama puts on screenwriters. Nanjani seemed to have his back covered by Apatow as there's not a shred of any of that false BS that comes sometimes into the genre. The main conflict that actually breaks up Kumail and Emily isn't contrived. (Emily by the way as played by Kazan is that lovable girl you might recall from Ruby Sparks, but *very* different here from that, except for the slightly quirky/upbeat persona). As a nitpick, it could be said Kumail's method of how he holds on to these girls his mother tries to set him up with that he refuses, all in a box on his dresser, is the one note that isn't believable, but I can actually buy that it sort of folds into how he is still unsure what to do with so many, many options at his feet (there's even one woman, later in the film, that, at another time or place, could've been the match, but he turns her down in one of those terribly uncomfortable scenes that rings true and is hard to watch).

How can Kumail reconcile this? I felt such empathy for him in this situation even as I had not gone through anything quite like what he went through, since there is still a universality that is felt through expectations from others. How does one stand up for oneself? Is it always so easy? Nanjani is a stand up comic in real life as he is in the film, and stand up at its most prime-cut is about the person on stage making honest connections and, sometimes, opening oneself so that that connection can be made purer (and, often, the laughs much more fulfilling). It's not that Kumail is at all weak as a stand-up when he talks about cheese or things, but it's when he gets his breakthrough about two-thirds of the way in, as he just breaks down on stage and, technically speaking "bombs", that he hits that spot of connection. If he can stand up as a stand-up, so to speak, then he can at least try to move on to the harder stuff, the message might be.

Or, as I originally stated, The Big Sick, a movie filled with funny and truly heart-wrenching moments and characters that all feel richly developed (even the parents and Kumail's brother, who kind of are types deep down, but nevertheless given wonderful personality by the actors playing them), it's all about the truth and how it sometimes just isn't easy, at all. It may be slightly mis-marketed as a romantic comedy though; it has romance and comedy, but at the same time the drama overwhelms and takes over that. It's not a classifiable movie except that, well, it's a Judd Apatow production - sharp, brutally honest writing, and a few s*** and d*** jokes here and there (and here less than usual). It's one of his best and a triumphant calling card for Nanjani as a leading man. 9.5/10

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