"The Big Sick" doesn't have the most appetizing name for a Movie -- who wants to watch a film about illness? But it is so much more than that. It's a story about love and loss, comedy and tragedy, and, best of all, it's a story grounded in reality that is stranger than anything fiction could ever produce.

About the movie

"The Big Sick" is a romantic comedy. It was co-written by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon. Directed by Michael Showalter, the movie was released on June 23, 2017.

Kumail, a comedian in Chicago, meets a girl at one of his comedy shows and instantly falls for her.

He and Emily have an awful falling out, though, before she suddenly becomes very sick. Kumail becomes responsible for her care and ends up bonding with her parents, who had negative preconceived notions of him. All of this takes place unbeknownst to his family, who is determined to set him up with a Pakistani girl in an arranged marriage.

'The Big Sick' provides the cure

At its core, this is a movie about fighting off feelings like an immune system fights off a disease. The first feelings are between Kumail and Emily, which lead to strange sparks and an explosive ending. Kumail must fight off his feelings of shame and loneliness in regard to his traditional family. He must also defend himself against traditional notions, both within his family and outside of it, in regard to his Muslim identity, or lack thereof.

Along the way, Kumail's interactions with others in the movie are fascinating. In one moment, he can be confident. In the next, he feels seconds from a breakdown. The emotions seem genuine, perhaps because they come from a genuine place: the real-life story of Kumail and Emily.

Supposedly, "The Big Sick" is based on the actual courtship between Kumail and Emily.

How much of it is based in truth remains a mystery, but supposedly illness and family dynamics were all an issue as the two were getting together. Obviously, the fact that they co-wrote the script together suggests a spoiler ending -- without knowing the backstory ahead of time, it feels a little cheap.

Kumail Nanjiani's performance was great, but Zoe Kazan's portrayal of Emily felt uneven.

She seemed to pivot from endearing to frustrating very quickly, which became even more inconsistent by the end of the movie. Another inconsistent character is Emily's father, played by Ray Romano. It's good to see Romano back on the screen, but it's a strange turn for him. He's endearing but weak and only gets a second chance to turn around his marriage because of a stroke of fate. His character development is flawed.

A genuinely funny movie

Despite some character issues, the movie gets by through its comedy. Funny moments litter this film from unexpected moments. Normally, a story about a girl doesn't lead to a lot of laughs, but there are some great stand-up acts featured, from both Kumail and Bo Burnham.

There was a joke about 9/11 that went over much better than expected in the audience. In fact, there are a lot of jokes about Islam that would be problematic if they were from anyone but a man from Pakistan.

There are also a lot of heartfelt moments full of family bonding, even with cultural issues in the way. Emily's mother combats an obnoxious fratboy heckler by questioning his request that Kumail "go back to ISIS." There's a battle about cultural assimilation faced by immigrants every day in the United States, trying to toe the line between tradition and Western culture. The movie does not provide a happy ending for every storyline, however.

Final thoughts

The romantic comedy is a played out movie genre.

Boy and girl (usually) meet, fall in love, face turmoil, end up together. It's so formulaic that it becomes dry. That isn't the case with "The Big Sick." Instead, audiences are presented with an authentic and innovative tale that weaves romance through illness, culture, and comedy. Combining all of those forces creates one of the freshest romantic comedies in recent memory.

Grade: A-