‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ // Film Review: Jillian Bell’s Performance Races to the Finish Line

What’s the Story: Brittany Fogler (Jillian Bell) is living in her late twenties as a broke and overweight woman in New York City that has no idea of what to do with her life at the moment. On a visit to a doctor just hoping to get her hands on Adderall, he recommends that she lose around 50 pounds as her body mass index is high, she’s making it easy for herself to be healthy by running, which leads her to run in the 26-mile New York City Marathon. 

Jillian Bell in Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

Another movie that premiered at Sundance last year that was well-received, Amazon Studios bought it for $14 million, and it earned the Audience Award in the U.S. drama category. The trailer for this instantly made me think this will lift many spirits. Though I was upset that I missed it in theaters. This was Perri Nemiroff from Collider’s favorite movie of last year, and since she’s a runner herself, I can totally see why she would have a personal connection with the basics of the story. Writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo makes his feature debut here and was inspired to make this based on his friend Brittany O’Neill. In making this happen, I feel Brittany Runs a Marathon will definitely encourage people to change who they are, all thanks to how enjoyable a comedy-drama like this is coming out to spread positivity. 

A lot of the credit for the movie has to go to Bell in the main role. She has usually been in supporting roles in the past with comedies like Office Christmas Party and Rough Night, but I didn’t think she was at her funniest when the scripts weren’t doing her any favors. This is a performance that she totally crushed throughout as a person who wants to better herself with her lifestyle. We can see that she’s meant to be a flawed character that needs adjusting to care for when a problem comes her way, but that’s the point of rooting for her to become a better person. She really impressed me with this, and I can tell she embraced this role as she said to lose 40 pounds.  

The supporting cast was equally memorable as the people Bell meets when deciding to run, even though she’s the one carrying the film. The biggest standout that I was keeping an eye on was Micah Stock as Seth, who befriends Brittany when first meeting at a two-mile run. Can we please see more of him in stuff? Then you also have Michaela Watkins as her neighbor who also helps her on this journey, and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Jern, one of the house sitters who might have a connection with Brittany while working on a side gig. While this relationship started rushed, they brightened their chemistry up as they shared more screen time. Lil Rey Howery also pops up as Brittany’s brother-in-law/ a father to her in a role that’s more laid-back then I thought.

Jillian Bell and Micah Stock in Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

At the film’s expense, it’s able to be funny and not make us laugh at the fact at her for the way she is, but blends in the drama that is ultimately genuine. The story kind of lolls around the second act before it was delving into the conflict, making it feel dragged out around that time. Also, some of the editing in the first act came across as a little clunky.

This is the perfect movie that’s made for those who are runners. I know certain people who ran track from school that love to run. But I didn’t realize how much I can relate to Brittany’s situation since I’m also someone who considers themselves overweight and trying to figure out what I have to do with my life without worrying about myself. At the moment, I’m trying my best to lose some weight twice a day, but I worry that I will never change my appearance. Does this make me want to run a marathon if I want to? Sadly, no, but this tells me this is all about the journey we set for ourselves and accomplish that goal we set. 

Brittany Runs a Marathon is a better alternative than that forgettable Run Fatboy Run movie with Simon Pegg. Thanks to Bell’s commitment to her performance and having a story like this equally funny and earnest. This might satisfy many, but I will say this can be in the category of crowd-pleasing for the ending, that’s for sure. Here’s to seeing her in more leading roles in the future. It’s another movie that’s available on Amazon Prime if you have nothing to do in your spare time.

Grade: B


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