Brittany Runs a Marathon
Time Out says
Jillian Bell shines in a complex comedy about health, fat-shaming and the relentless forward momentum of being a New Yorker.
Review by Tomris Laffly
An endearing and earnest comedy about self-acceptance and body positivity that sidesteps cheesy pitfalls, Brittany Runs a Marathon is based on the journey of a real-life friend of writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo. Snarky Off Broadway usher Brittany (Rough Night’s quick-witted Jillian Bell, striking a deft blend of sincerity and slapstick) uses humor to conceal her demons. Tired of being invisible to men and unable to afford a gym, Brittany decides to take it to the streets, running one city block at a time to build up her stamina. (The Astoria-set film is believable in its NYC-ness without trying too hard.) Along the way, she befriends Catherine (Michaela Watkins), a jogging obsessive, as well as fellow rookie Seth (Micah Stock), eventually training with both of them for the annual city marathon. Meanwhile, a new house-sitting gig introduces her to Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a lovable troublemaker who convinces Brittany to move into the fancy digs they’re supposed to be taking care of.
Colaizzo successfully walks a fine line between inspiration and caution, never presenting Brittany as a patronizing role model for weight loss, nor a clichéd case of inner beauty. The film grasps the complex nature of Brittany’s self-image without ignoring its dark side: One poignant scene observes her in a weak moment as she regretfully insults another overweight woman out of her own sense of insecurity. Brittany Runs a Marathon loses some steam in its middle section, the humor considerably lessening as Brittany starts seeing favorable results in her training while her situation with Jern gets a touch long-winded. Still, Colaizzo’s compassionate script holds the Brittanys of the world dear. His film delivers where other admirable efforts on body image—such as Amy Schumer’s misconceived I Feel Pretty—fall short, gifting a rare amount of empathy to anyone in an abusive relationship with their bathroom scale.
Cast and crew