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Brittany Runs a Marathon (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Brittany Runs a Marathon


Starring Jillian Bell, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Michaela Watkins, Micah Stock, Lil Rel Howery, Alice Lee, Jennifer Dundas, Kate Arrington, Beth Malone, Mikey Day, Dan Bittner, Peter Vack, Esteban Benito, Patch Darragh, Sarah Bolt, Ian Unterman, Max Pava, Gina Costigan, Adam Sietz, Nadia Quinn, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Juri Henley-Cohn, Pascal Yen-Pfister and Miriam A. Hyman.

Screenplay by Paul Downs Colaizzo.

Directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo.

Distributed by Amazon Studios. 103 minutes. Rated R.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is an inspirational story about a woman finding love for herself, those who love her, and life as a whole through running. It is a story we can all relate to.

When I think back to Brittany Runs a Marathon almost a week later, as funny as it was, I don’t remember the humor nearly as much as I remember the heart of the film. It was a movie that truly moved me. If we’re being honest at one point had me close to tears, just because of how inspiring Brittany’s story was and how close she came to not accomplishing her dreams.

Brittany’s story is naturally a relatable one. She is an overweight woman in her early thirties. Living in New York City year after year, she has lost sight of who she really is and what she wants out of life. I think we can all relate to eating like shit, partying too much, and generally not knowing what the fuck we want to do with ourselves. So, even though I’m not an overweight woman living in New York I found this film to be deeply relatable. I’m sure you will too.

The biggest reason I found this film so touching was the character of Brittany and all that the wonderful and talented actress (Jillian Bell) put into her performance of her. Her character was portrayed as such a real and deeply damaged human being. That’s all thanks to Bell’s nuanced performance, which was filled with as much humor and joy as it was spitefulness and depression.

Brittany was far from a perfect person. It takes great skill as an actor or actress to walk that line and play a character that is both a terrible person at times and extremely likable at others. I don’t think any actress could have done this role better.

The casting was perfect all around. Every person on screen felt real. While they made me cry laughing at their jokes, hate them for their despicable actions, or feel for their struggles, no one felt out of place.

Utkarsh Ambudkar was an absolute highlight playing Brittany’s lazy love interest in the movie. From the moment he came on screen in a cloud of pot smoke, with Dorito dust on his fingers, he was charming the hell out of the audience and Brittany too. Again, the movie would not be the same without this brilliant choice of casting and terrific performance put on by Ambudkar.

I also want to give major props to Michaela Watkins for playing the complicated role of Brittany’s next-door neighbor and eventual friend. I don’t want to give it all away but the writing and story she was given was complex. The relationship her character has with Brittany is very love/hate. It takes talent to make that feel real and Watkins does.

As for the writing at large, it was very tight; smart, witty, and straight to the point almost always. It felt real throughout the film, like real New York moments and conversations. I appreciated its constant movement and authenticity. I’ve spent a lot of time in New York and you can tell the people who put this film together have as well.

I learned at a Q&A with the director (Paul Downs Colazzio) and lead actress (Jillian Bell) after the Philadelphia premiere that they filmed the movie in only 28 days. This explains why the film feels so alive and fast paced, constantly moving, even though at its core it’s a regular movie about life and love.

The director really accomplished something special in filming this movie so quickly and at a low budget. It was not surprising when we find out that Brittany Runs a Marathon is based on a true story. Not surprising at all in fact, because the movie feels like real life from start to finish. From its writing to its cast, to its all-around style. I love that about the movie, and I just love the movie.

I don’t mean to continually be singing the praises of films with no criticism, but Brittany Runs a Marathon (like The Peanut Butter Falcon last week) is a low budget film that was made with genius and good intention. It was made with the purpose of communicating a strong and important message. I can’t speak higher of it than that.

Through its airtight writing, realistic cinematography, witty humor, and heartfelt performances Brittany Runs a Marathon feels human and tells a human story; true to form and true to life. It smartly walks the divide between fat shaming, fat acceptance, and encouraging those around us to live better and better themselves. It walks that divide with grace all the way to the end. It delivers a great message about how we should treat those around us, and we should treat ourselves as we go through life.

I could tell you what it is, but I say go to your nearest theater, buy a ticket, and find out as the hour and forty-three-minute run time of Brittany Runs a Marathon sprints by.

Austin Gomberg

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: August 30, 2019.

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