‘My Blind Brother’ Tribeca Review: Adam Scott, Nick Kroll & Jenny Slate’s Hysterical Relationship Comedy
My Blind Brother puts a man’s disability – blindness – at the center of its comedy. And, shockingly, it works.
My Blind Brother Review
In My Blind Brother, Adam Scott plays the titular brother, Robbie, an apparent narcissist who feeds off of the adulation of the residents in his small suburban town. Running marathons, swimming across lakes – anything to get covered in the local news. Serving as Robbie’s eyes during his various stunts is his brother Bill (Nick Kroll). When Robbie runs a marathon, it’s Bill who is tethered to him, gently guiding him towards the finish line. When Robbie completes the marathon and decides he’ll take on a swim next, he tells Bill that training will start immediately.
In an attempt to let off some steam, Bill heads to the bar, where he meets Rose (Jenny Slate). Rose is at the bar for her late boyfriend’s repast. She’s outside of said bar because she feels guilty about his death; the boyfriend died after getting hit by a truck while chasing her after she’d broken up with him. The two bond over their shared certainty that they’re terrible people, love of watching TV, and empty promises of righting their wrongs via some magical service trip with soccer-playing elephants. They have sex.
Rose doesn’t give Bill her number the next morning because she’s in no place to date. But, much to both her and Bill’s confusion, she ends up dating Robbie after volunteering to help him train. Careful not to hurt Robbie’s feelings, Bill doesn’t tell Robbie that he has slept with Rose, and Rose – despite having no actual romantic interest in Robbie – continues to date him. Both tortured by the possibility of being in love with one another while keeping up the ruse for the asinine Robbie, hilarity ensues.
In one memorable scene, Bill and Rose give into their baser impulses while Robbie is out for a walk and are caught in the act – well, sort of. Unaware of his brother and girlfriend’s states of undress, Robbie chatters on while Kroll and Slate, in a genius act of physical comedy, attempt to clothe themselves without making it sound as though they’re pulling up pants and shrugging into shirts.
Scott owns his role as the straight man in this unorthodox couple comedy by writer-director Sophie Goodhart. Without his commitment to being the anal jerk, Kroll and Slate’s irredeemable characters would surely have failed to garner such sympathy and cheers to find their way back to each other. Slate manages to sell a depth of sincerity in Rose in between acts of oblivious self-centeredness that border on sociopathy. As for Kroll, he plays the sad sack Bill with aplomb, but shows enough potential that it seems possible that in an ending that would be too trite for Goodhart to write, he’ll get his act together – with or without Rose.
My Blind Brother, against the odds, manages to provide inoffensive laugh-out loud comedy with a blind guy as the main villain, his brother – who accidentally caused his blindness in a cruel childhood prank – the hero, and a girl you hope he gets someone who a) may have caused her ex-boyfriend’s death and b) dated his blind brother out of pity while pining for him. It seems an impossible feat, but Goodhart and her trio of talented stars more than pull it off.