– by David Kozlowski

A popular (and legitimate) knock against the movie industry today is that big-budget blockbusters are squeezing out smaller, independent films. Put another way, Hollywood math favors massive spectacles that fill stadium seating; consequently, there’s simply less opportunity for lower-budgeted personal or human stories that explore relationships, culture, and society. Even though indies are far cheaper to make, they don’t yield remotely the same level of revenue. Stupid math!

Fortunately, the emergence of cash-flush, independent studios like Netflix and Amazon — who’ve cultivated diverse, niche audiences — are bucking the status quo. They’re betting that multi-platform, worldwide streaming services are the secret sauce to unlocking success in smaller films, which the monolithic, risk-averse studios wouldn’t otherwise touch. It’s a huge win for film buffs and cinema lovers, who maybe aren’t seeing their interests reflected in the typical summer or holiday fare.

A great example of just such an indie film is Amazon Studios’ new offbeat comedy: The Big Sick by director Michael Showalter, and written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, Portlandia). A new trailer for the film just dropped, which stars Nanjiani, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter.

The film’s story is inspired by the real-world experiences of its writers, Nanjiani and Gordon, who begin a modern-day, multi-cultural relationship, and then struggle with the inevitable clashes of family and lifestyle. What sets this particular story apart is Gordon’s sudden and devastating illness, which brings their families together under the most pressing of circumstances.

Explorations of interracial love are definitely not new to film; starting with early silent films like The Bronze Bride or Broken Blossoms, and more notably with 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever in 1991. Hollywood is no stranger to such subject matter. What sets this film apart is the distinctly Middle Eastern cast, which provides a window into an aspect of American culture that we don’t see on television or film nearly enough.  

The film looks sweet and funny, but also a bit preachy. Nanjiani, who is Pakastani, sadly engages in stereotypical gags about arranged marriage, Islamaphobia, and intolerant white parents. There’s anything wrong with these particular topics, but none of it seems fresh or new here. Despite the trailer’s somewhat sappy story, it’s apparent there’s a level of honesty and sincerity in the performances. Overall, the trailer for The Big Sick suggests a solid date movie with (hopefully) something interesting to say about ethnicity, culture, and acceptance.  

Are you interested in seeing more independent films like The Big Sick in theaters? Let us know in the comments down below!

The Big Sick hits theaters on July 14, 2017.

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SOURCE: Amazon Studios

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.