Based on the lives of co-writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick details the early days of the relationship between Kumail (Nanjiani), who immigrated to the United States alongside his Muslim Pakistani family, and Emily (Zoe Kazan), who is commitment-adverse after suffering a series of broken relationships. While their diverse backgrounds prove difficulty enough for their relationship, Emily also goes into a coma, forcing Kumail to bond with her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) as he tries to salvage a relationship when it’s unknown if his partner will live.

Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick is the best Judd Apatow-produced film since 2007, when Knocked Up and Superbad provided an incredible comedic one-two burst. While it still retains some of the bloat specific to Apatow productions (and improvisation comedy films in general), The Big Sick is a winning romantic comedy with affectionate characters and genuine emotional insight. It’s the sort of film that’s sure to become a crowd-pleasing smash because of its combination of clever gags, cross-cultural awareness, and heart-tugging emotion.

Central to the film’s appeal is Nanjiani, who not only provides half the screenwriting duties, but who also proves to be a charming leading man in his first starring role. Known for his supporting gig on HBO’s Silicon Valleyand his omnipresence on sitcoms, podcasts, and at stand-up festivals, Nanjiani has never been allowed to add depth to his roles as witty geeks. While here, Nanjiani plays a variation of his usual schtick, he’s also crafted a role that allows him to showcase more than verbal wit. He’s funny and he’s quick with a self-deprecating comment about his ethnicity, but he’s also loveable—even heartbreaking in moments. A confrontation with his family late in the film reveals depths I never thought he had as a performer.

Of course, he’s also appealing alongside Zoe Kazan in the early stages of the film, depicting a relationship that allows genuine romance to exist alongside contemporary flourishes. And however good the early scenes are when Nanjiani shares the screen with a winsome Kazan, the film is best when Emily’s in a coma and Kumail is forced to reckon with her parents, played by Holly Hunter and a never-better Ray Romano.

While Holly Hunter is her usual dynamic self, Romano is especially surprising, mining the melancholy of his sad-dad schtick to greater depths than ever before. In particular, there’s a scene where he spends a night on the floor of Kumail’s bedroom that is a highlight, demonstrating both the desperation and dedication needed to make a relationship work after monumental hiccups. This entire section of the film correctly reveals that romance is about more than forging a relationship with your lover; it’s also about forging a relationship with your lover’s family.

That The Big Sick is able to offer genuine insight about more than life-threatening illnesses and the issues of cross-cultural romance is a minor miracle. This is a film that succeeds on all fronts, reminding people why the romantic comedy is such a valuable genre in the first place.