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Review: Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

Find a theatre, look up showtimes, and RUN to go see it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Before going to see a movie, I like to at least watch the trailer so that I get a sense of the movie’s tone and what it’s about. Before going to see Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019), all I had seen was the poster. Surprisingly though, the poster was enough to sell me on seeing this movie. Which may be the first time a poster has ever successfully swayed me into seeing a movie. Judging by the poster, I assumed I was in for an hour and a half of silly fluffy comedy, as a protagonist whose never worked out before attempts to run a marathon out of spite. While Brittany Runs a Marathon is undoubtedly hysterical, it’s so much more than your average comedy. It’s a beautiful and inspiring story that speaks to the masses. In the best way possible, this was not the movie I was expecting. It was so much better.

Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 9.18.18 PM
Credit: / Amazon Studios

Based on a true story, Brittany Runs a Marathon follows Brittany Forgler, an overweight theatre usher who after being told by her doctor that she has a fatty liver, decides to start getting in shape. After joining a running group, Brittany becomes determined to run the New York City marathon and in the process, turn the entirety of her struggling life around.

There is so much to love about Brittany Runs a Marathon. For starters, as I mentioned, it’s a laugh riot. Written and directed by newcomer Paul Downs Colaizzo, the script is sharp, smart, funny and above all else, relatable as hell. Seriously, it’s off the charts how relatable the character of Brittany is. I’m a big fan of when the majority of a movie’s comedy originates from the hilarity of everyday life and that’s exactly what Brittany Runs a Marathon does. It holds a mirror up to the 20-something generation and says, “here’s what’s either flat-out ridiculous or so frustrating that we have no choice to laugh about it. Either way we’re going to laugh!” The comedy is effortless, natural and used at just the right moments in the story. The movie perfectly balances its lighthearted humour with its heavier themes, and I can’t decide if I was more absorbed in the story when it played to the comedic or dramatic elements. This is a wonderfully well-rounded movie, achieving the type of tonal balance many dramedies set out to accomplish but rarely do. It’s impossible not to be pulled along on this roller coaster ride of one woman working to better herself, even if she’s not sure what bettering herself really means.

Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 9.27.25 PM
Credit: / Amazon Studios

Starring as Brittany is Jillian Bell whom I know solely from her appearance in 22 Jump Street (2014). She was so funny and such a scene-stealer, I was sad she never blew up the way that so many comedy stars do. Thankfully, her impeccable talent and boundless charisma are on full display as she leads this movie with the star power and talent of the Hollywood A-list. Bell is an unbelievably entertaining delight. Her comedic timing and tone are flawless and watching her is like watching a top stand-up comedian perform their best set. She plays this lovable mess with such an earnest and grounded presence that you can’t help but see yourself in Brittany while also wanting to be more like her. After all, she’s my favourite kind of protagonist: One who recognizes the unhappiness and unfulfillment in her life and strives to change it. Plus, she’s committed to living healthier, takes risks in new relationships, and has fun chatting with her friends at cute cafés. Who wouldn’t want all that?

Over the course of the movie, I just became more and more invested in Brittany’s story. As she trains for the marathon, makes new friends (the fantastic Michaela Watkins and Micah Stock whose characters I was also sincerely invested in) and flirts with romance (the charming Utkarsh Ambudkar), I was constantly on Brittany’s side. There’s so much truth, heart, humour and reality to both the character and the story, that I wanted nothing but success for Brittany. In her darkest moments of desperation and uncertainty, I truly feared for Brittany, hoping that she picked herself back up. Her journey is an adventure that I couldn’t stop watching I if I wanted to.

I want to see Bell in so many more things after this. I’m such a fan now. If there’s any justice in this world, she’ll be nominated for a Golden Globe for her work. Look, if the Golden Globes has the audacity to name The Martian (2015) the best comedy of the year over Spy (2015), than the least they can do is nominate Bell. Yeah, I’m still not over that injustice. 

Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 9.19.40 PM
Credit: / Amazon Studios

Somehow, Brittany Runs a Marathon manages to be simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. There’s no doubt in my mind that if this were a straight-up comedy, it would have been very good. But what makes this movie such an experience is the intimacy and care that’s put into a story and character that is able to speak to almost anyone who watches her. Who among us hasn’t struggled with weight? Been trapped in a dead-end job? Felt inferior when compared to their friends? This movie is uplifting and inspiring and I firmly believe that if given the chance, will be beloved by this generation and the next. Oh my God, at one point “Good As Hell” by Lizzo starts playing and after I went “YASSS!”I had a thought: As a whole, Brittany Runs a Marathon is a lot like a Lizzo song. A bold message of self-love wrapped up in a fun, bright package.

Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 9.31.44 PM
Credit: / Amazon Studios

I’m at a very transitional time in my life right now, a time where I’m trying to make the right choices so that I can live my best life. Brittany Runs a Marathon is exactly the type of movie I needed. If you give it the chance, I have a feeling you’ll find just as much comfort in it as I did. You know what this movie most reminds me of? Those movies you used to pick up at Blockbuster without knowing anything about it and then after watching it, are more than pleasantly surprised. You may have even found a new movie to add to your list of favourites. I know I have.

Will you see Brittany Runs a Marathon?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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