“Brittany Runs a Marathon” revolves around Brittany (Jillian Bell), who gets a wake-up call about her health while visiting a doctor. She decides that, instead of paying for a gym membership, she’ll start running. And as she gets more into her fitness, she sets a goal for herself to run the New York Marathon.
Jillian Bell gives a career-best performance as Brittany. Not only is she funny in the film, but at times, she can be hard to like. Brittany is tempted to go back to her former party lifestyle of doing drugs and drinking; she can still be selfish, focusing on her own problems and dismissing her friends’ struggles, and she even drags down others for the same weight issues she experienced. It was refreshing to see her play a fleshed-out character with flaws instead of her usual role as the comedic scene stealer.
As supporting characters, Seth (Micah Stock) and Catherine (Michaela Watkins) are Brittany’s running friends who show what real friendship looks like, in contrast to Brittany’s party friend, Gretchen (Alice Lee). Rounding out the supporting cast is Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery), who is like a father figure to Brittany, and Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), Brittany’s co-worker and eventual love interest. I was not the biggest fan of that subplot and never really bought into their romance, though I did enjoy their initial friendship.
The plot is predictable due to the title of the film, but there’s more to Brittany’s story than I was expecting. She struggles to maintain relationships whether it be family, friends or romance, and she experiences job and financial insecurity, not to mention body insecurity. These problems help make Brittany a more relatable character, and it’s easy for the audience to connect to at least one aspect of her struggles. I, like Brittany, tend to hold people at an arm’s length and get easily discouraged when things go wrong. Feel-good movies like these tend to gloss over any negative qualities found in the protagonist, but I’m glad that director Paul Downs Colaizzo decided to shine a light on them.
Of course, the film is fairly paint-by-numbers as well and falls into cliches. And despite its fairly short run time of 104 minutes, the pacing could have been tighter in a couple of scenes.
But despite the predictable story, the film’s positive message is still resonant. Brittany and her story are inspiring and made me believe that I, too, can achieve my goals and get better.
“Brittany Runs a Marathon” is now playing on Prime Video.
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Isabelle is a film critic who was born and raised in Dallas. She graduated with a BA in Media Arts with a minor in Spanish at the University of North Texas. To Isabelle, nothing can beat going to the movie theater, it’s her home away from home. And as a lover of all things TV and movies, she runs her own review blog at isabellereviewsmovies.com as well as contributes to irishfilmcritic.com and shuffleonline.net.