By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Every year we get several under the radar comedies that seem to pop up on Netflix or Amazon without a lick of marketing or forewarning, despite attractive casts of comic stalwarts which you’d expect could get a film in theaters on name recognition alone.
Admit it, you don’t know what the hell this is.
My Blind Brother is the latest, featuring the murderer’s row of Nick Kroll, Adam Scott, and Jenny Slate as a 30-something manchild going nowhere fast, his blind sports star/local hero brother, and the woman torn between them, respectively. That kind of sets it all up really. Scott tries to swim across a lake? That bears mentioning.
There are worse ways to spend 90 minutes than with this cast. Scott in particular really embraces his asshole overachiever character as well as the physicality and even facial expressions of a blind man. Yep, he’s somewhat the villain of the piece, since Kroll feels obligated to help him in his many athletic endeavors in the name of raising money for charity and or keeping Scott in the limelight.
There are some interesting setups in the film surrounding guilt in its many forms; Slate’s in turning down, then leading on a blind man, Kroll’s at feeling responsibility for his brother’s blindness in the first place due to a childhood accident, and it all comes around to some heartswells in the end, lessons learned, etc, which are effective enough.
This is a comedy of awkwardness, not a comedy of… comedy. It’s just not very funny. I don’t think I laughed once. So, explains all that under the radar bit, I guess.
Not that I laughed once at this major theatrical release, either.
For all the apparently clever turning of the tables, My Blind Brother is arguably demeaning to blind people. Charlie Hewson plays some sort of pot-smoking gangsta wanna-be who’s also blind and likes to joke about how the cops will let him do anything. This is probably a part that could have been given to an actual blind person at least, because God knows a SAG card wasn’t necessary for this kind of role. Not that there aren’t plenty of blind SAG card holders, but I’m assuming every single one passed. Otherwise, much fun is made of Scott slamming into things, or driving a car, etc. The entire premise just seems like something that should have never left the whiteboard.
Kroll and Slate have been navigating towards this Indie borecore type of film lately, perhaps to assert their acting bona fides for larger projects like so many comedians before them. It’s… just not their strength, and the results are never terrible, but…
Distracting presence in Loving arguably aside
… they’re never much more than mediocre, either.
My Blind Brother may have a cast that suggests comedy, but you’re not going to find much of that there. Largely diverting if very slight dramedy? Sure.
My Blind Brother (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Robbie’s blindness is mentioned
Take a Drink: for watching TV or talking about watching TV
Take a Drink: whenever Robbie acts like an asshole
Take a Drink: whenever Jenny Slate makes a bad decision or digs herself in deeper to an awkward situation
Do a Shot: for each time Robbie does something a blind person wouldn’t normally or probably shouldn’t do
Do a Shot: for bathroom conversations