In Sophie Goodhart‘s intentionally lackadaisical comedy My Blind Brother, Nick Kroll sharpens his post-television presence as unambitious deadbeat Bill whose doomed purpose in life is to be a seeing-eye underdog for his egotistical handicapable brother Robbie (Adam Scott). Complications arise when Bill and Robbie have eyes, er feelings, for the same girl, the spirited, wanna-be-do-gooder Rose (Jenny Slate). The result is a well-meaning, socially awkward meditation on the comedy of disability. Following the sacred rule book of Matt and Trey, either everything is fair game or nothing is and this mentality leads My Blind Brothers down some delightfully uncouth corridors.
Where Rose and Robbie have nothing in common, Rose and Bill share a love of lethargy, paying tribute to the gods of Netflix and chill, worshiping at the altar of idleness. But while both extol the virtue of sloth, neither finds that much time to slum it on the couch. Bill is almost constantly forced to train with Robbie, who in order to raise money for his charity Out Of Sight regularly participates in marathons of one sort or another, a fact that has made him a bit of a local hero. When Bill expresses a desire to retire as Robbie’s eyes, Rose steps in, unaware that the man that she would be assisting is the brother of the guy she hooked up with the night before.
Following a painfully awkward kiss, Rose accidentally finds herself assigned the role of Robbie’s girlfriend, though it’s much more clear that the connection she shares with Bill is much more organic and heartfelt. Not wanting to hurt Robbie’s feelings, Rose continues to unwittingly egg him on, all the while spending more and more time with Bill. Goodhart presents a divine tweak to the classical comedy love triangle in Robbie’s blindness, as he remains in the dark concerning Bill’s growing obsession with Rose, which makes for some crack-up situational comedy, such as Robbie walking in on Bill and Rose half-naked and hooking up and being none the wiser, even throwing a group hug upon their sex-sweaty bodies.
Both TV-lovers are paying penance for the sins of their past – Bill for challenging his brother to the prank diving contest that blinded him so many years ago, Rose for “killing” her boyfriend via dumping him, an otherwise harmless act that led him to absentmindedly trot in front of a moving bus. Both of them seek redemption of a sort in their affiliation with Robbie, who is not the easiest person to get along, much less feign romance with.
As the titular blind brother, Scott is a grade-A narcissist, a sculpted peacock who takes as much pleasure in ribbing his brother as he does being a local news braggart. He’s the kind of guy who watches the uncut footage of himself running a marathon, gatherings his friends and family around for the occasion. And let me remind you, he’s blind. So I guess you would say he listens to the footage. Either way, he’s an ass who hates to share the spotlight, regularly ignoring the brother that makes it all possible (Bill must run or swim or walk beside Robbie to ensure his safety during all these high-intensity events) in his long list of thank you addresses. I can think of no one to better play this part than Scott, a performer who shifts effortlessly between playing lovable and detestable characters and here has crafted someone who’s both remarkably resilient and socially pigheaded, a complex comedic figure in an otherwise straightforward comedic outing.
What started as a 2003 short film has ballooned into a mostly inconsequential comedy of jealous companionship. The narrative germ comes from Goodhart’s own experience, she grew up with a sister diagnosed with MS and frequently found her own accomplishments sidelined, which extends her somewhat politically incorrect, mildly misanthropic teasing all the more bite. You see in Bill and Rose the desire to shirk duty but their admittedly glowing moral compasses always steer them towards redeeming water.
CONCLUSION: ‘My Blind Brother’ isn’t as out of sight as the talented trio at its center suggests but its marriage of standoffish sarcasm and heartfelt familial melodrama makes for a mostly winning combination of acerbic comedy.