Overview: The strained relationship between two brothers comes to a head when they become two points of a love triangle. 2016; Orion Pictures/Starz Digital; Rated R; 85 minutes.
Tone: Going into My Blind Brother, it would be easy to expect something cruel and Farrelly Brothers-esque in which the main source of humour is the blind character at the centre of the story. Sophie Goodhart, expanding her own 2003 short, completely avoids that. Even though Robbie, the blind brother, is an arrogant blowhard, his disability is not the comedy well they keep going back to. Goodhart has written a great rom-com about people losing control of their lives and how they try and drag all the pieces back together, or at least hide the cracks from the world, and she doesn’t rely on slapstick to do it.
Tale: The story is a classic one: Boy meets girl at her boyfriend’s funeral, boy and girl have a one night stand, girl begins to help boy’s brother train for a charity swim, girl ends up dating boy’s brother, boy realises he’s in love with girl. The plot keeps you on your toes, mostly because of the unpredictable movements of Jenny Slate’s character who, more than once, said or did something that had me shouting at the screen, ‘No, don’t do it!’ while doubled over laughing.
My Blind Brother, like last year’s Sleeping with Other People, is a great modern rom-com in which there is a honesty to the flawed central characters and also a stupidity. Real people sometimes do and say dumb things and have to live with the consequences, and in real life you don’t get many ‘90s rom-com moments in which you run through an airport or declare your love in the rain. Sometimes you just want to find someone who also watches as much TV as you do.
Triangle: Nick Kroll, who is usually known for his character work on Kroll Show and Comedy Bang Bang, gives a rare straight performance. He has some good lines and is a constantly naturally funny guy, but he doesn’t go too big with his role as the put upon, sighted brother. Adam Scott has a resume of playing awful smarmy assholes (see Step Brothers), but in his portrayal of Robbie, he manages to find the extra dimension that keeps the character from being an out and out villain, and Scott and Kroll share a natural chemistry so their relationship, if strained, feels lived in. The MVP though, as always, is Jenny Slate. Slate is a vastly charismatic actress who can go big or small and still keep you with her. She is one of those comedians who can get a laugh out of every facial expression, and in My Blind Brother she gets some of the big laugh out loud moments.
Overall: My Blind Brother could have been a more mean-spirited, cynical movie, but Goodhart manages to craft something with just enough dark humour to give it bite without the sour aftertaste.
Featured Image: Orion Pictures/Starz Digital