Most would agree to make fun of individuals with disabilities is in poor taste, but what director and writer Sophie Goodhart accomplishes in My Blind Brother is something special. As someone who has experienced first-hand what it is like to grow up alongside someone with a disability, Goodhart gently bypasses political correctness with light-hearted humor told in a tale of a sibling rivalry.
My Blind Brother follows the relationship between two brothers, Robbie (Adam Scott) and Bill (Nick Kroll). Robbie, who is blind, goes out of his way by completing various athletic feats to raise money and awareness for his cause “Out of Sight,” a local charity dedicated to helping those who are visually impaired. At every event Bill is beside Robbie acting as his guide, protecting him from any obstacles that may cause him harm. After the duo successfully completes a marathon, it is revealed that Robbie, a local hero of sorts, is a kind of a jerk, not once acknowledging Bill who has been with him every step of the way. Dedicated to his brother and his cause, Bill secretly bottles up his resentment towards him creating an awkward dynamic between the two. After Robbie decides to up the ante for his next event by swimming across a large lake in their hometown, Bill goes out for a well-deserved beer and hooks up with Rose (Jenny Slate), a young woman who is grieving her recently deceased boyfriend. After their awkward one-night stand comes to an end, the two ironically see each other again after Rose unknowingly volunteers to help train Robbie for his next event.
When looking at the cast, you have to wonder what kind of film you are about to watch. Anyone who thinks they are going into their typical Adam Scott/Nick Kroll comedy is wrong and should prepare to have their expectations flipped upside down. This is a light-hearted comedy about a sensitive subject. The typical crude humor is replaced by subtle and truthful awkwardness, that at times forces you question if it’s okay to laugh. Adam Scott is dead on in his portrayal of an overly glorified ass who just so happens to be blind and it’s refreshing to see Nick Kroll in a more sensitive role. Jenny Slate who plays the somewhat neurotic, but thoughtful wedge between the brothers brings an innocent aspect into the fold. The three together for a memorable, thoughtful, and natural performance.
Directing from her own script, Goodhart earned much praise at this year’s SXSW Festival being awarded the SXSW Game Changer Award. Besides a few cleverly placed “blind gags” Goodhart never has the audience directly laughing at anyone’s disability, in fact, most of the laughs make for key memorable moments. Goodhart takes a sensitive subject and says it’s okay to laugh.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Overall I am happy to give My Blind Brother four out of five stars. Comedies with heart that aren’t afraid to tackle sensitive subjects with grace and poise don’t come around too often. The low-key laughs and slight chuckles, due to clever writing and spot on comedic timing, add up during the hour and twenty-five minute runtime, thus, making for an enjoyable experience. I was skeptical at first when I saw who had been cast for the film, but after viewing, I couldn’t see the characters portrayed by anyone else. My Blind Brother will be released nationwide in theaters, on Demand, and iTunes on September 23rd.