my_blind_brother(Note: Yes, this came out last week. But I’d already written most of it and messed up my ed cal and so I’m publishing it anyway because my house, my rules. Sincerely –The Management)

Bill (Nick Kroll) has done a lot for his brother Robbie (Adam Scott) to help him feel like he can accomplish anything despite his disability in the new movie My Blind Brother. That includes helping Robbie train for and run in a marathon, acting as his guide on the course. Bill has put a lot of his own stuff on hold to do that because that’s what brothers do.

One night Bill has what he thinks has been a one-night stand with Rose (Jenny Slate). But after the two of them part ways she meets Robbie, who like her more than she likes him. That makes it awkward when Robbie tries to introduce her to Bill. While Rose keeps failing to tell Robbie she’s not that interested in him she becomes more enamored with Bill, who she’s initially blown off. Robbie’s blindness adds a level of complexity to this awkward love triangle, as does the fact that Rose has offered to help him train for a swimming competition. Hilarity, of course, ensues. So let’s take a look at how it was sold.

The Posters

The poster is pretty funny and should appeal to people who are already fans of the three leads through their various other projects. So all three, Kroll, Slate and Scott are shown with Scott and Slate right next to each other and Scott’s hand pushing Kroll away from the two of them. It certainly shows there’s some sort of conflict between the characters that will likely be presented in comedic fashion – reinforced by the tagline “Romantically challenged” – but it doesn’t offer much in the way of explaining what that is.

The Trailers

The trailer opens as Bill and Rose are finishing up a one-night stand, with Bill getting shot down after he asks if he can call her again. We then meet Robbie and see that between him and Bill, he’s the favorite son. Bill helps Robbie run races but gets none of the credit, so Robbie is immediately setup as kind of a selfish jerk. Robbie meets a woman who wants to help him train for a swim, and that of course turns out to be Rose, setting up an awkward situation between her and Bill. The rest of the trailer establishes that Robbie likes Rose and she feels bad for him but Rose increasingly is attracted to Bill despite her initial rejection. And that’s where the humor will come from.

It’s pretty funny. While there’s a slight concern that much of the humor will come from Robbie being a selfish jerk because he’s blind, it actually appears here that mostly it will be concerned with the live triangle. Yes there’s some “a-hole blind guy” stereotype humor here but that doesn’t seem to be the focus. Scott, Slate and Kroll all look they turn in dependably funny performances, as completely expected.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website is a Tumblr blog that redirects from MyBlindBrother.com. The trailer pops up when you load the site and it’s worth rewatching. At the top of the page is a “Watch Now” link that opens up a GoWatchIt listing where you can find out if it’s playing in your area or buy or rent it from any of a half-dozen on-demand services where it’s available. There are also links to the Facebook and Twitter profiles for the film as well as Starz’s Instagram profile.

Most of the updates on the Tumblr blog were the same ones that were posted to Facebook and Twitter. Those included the trailer, links to clips that were sent to media, updated information about the VOD release and promotional graphics and GIFs. Nothing too fancy and most of the activity outside of the early festival screenings came in August and September.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen, though it’s safe to assume some online advertising was done to drive people to the VOD purchases.

Media and Publicity

Just before it debuted at SXSW a clip was released that showed Scott’s character punching a biker after a mild altercation that totally didn’t need to be resolved via violence. The movie continued to hit a few film festivals, including Tribeca and others where it racked up decent if not overly glowing word of mouth. Starz picked it up for distribution in the midst of all this.

my-blind-brother-pic

Adam Scott made one or two late night talk show appearances to promote the movie but that’s about it on the press front outside of the release of clips and other marketing materials.

Overall

There’s no big ground being broken here. The campaign is just trying to sell a mildly amusing comedy that involves a bunch of actors you like from other projects (including “Parks & Recreation”) and tell you you’re likely to enjoy this as much as you do the others. There’s no hard sell here, just the promise of a bunch of awkward moments as it tells the story of a very complicated variation on sibling resentment and rivalry.

It’s a small campaign so there isn’t a lot to critique in terms of brand consistency or style. There’s a funny movie at the core of the marketing, but not a laugh-out-loud comedy, more one that will have you watching it partly through your fingers because of the character’s actions. If it can get in front of the right people, those being the kind who are used to watching these actors be amusing on TV and are good with a VOD rental on a Saturday night, it might be a moderate success. But the lack of overt advertising, which is essential for awareness of a movie like this, might hurt it in that regard.

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