‘Brittany Runs A Marathon’ Film Review: A millennial’s guide to turning one’s life around

Jillian Bell in BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, an Amazon Original release. (Credit: Material Pictures / Picture Films)

In Brittany Runs A Marathon, we meet 27-year-old Brittany. She’s young, broke, lives in New York with her “social influencer” roommate and feels miserable at her dead-end job. She spends nights drunk partying and sleeping in ’til noon. Just as you would assume, she decides to turn her life around — and my oh my is it an incredibly inspiring, funny and heartfelt feat to watch.

The ever-so-naturally-funny Jillian Bell plays Brittany Forgler who, one day, visits the doctor to get an Adderall prescription, only to be told she needs to lose weight. She argues with the doctor that “every size is beautiful,” regarding the Dove ads, yet soon realizes that she needs to change.

In walks her fitness-freak neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins), whom Brittany despises at first, only to eventually warm up to as the recently-separated mother and photographer opens up to Brittany, sharing her own struggles as a younger woman, and encourages her to go running.

Through Brittany, we see that her relationships with others are what push her forward — and even some that may push her back. We see her having to let go of her toxic friendship with her “social influencer” Instagram-obsessed roommate. We see her bond and create healthy relationships with her running mates, which is an incredibly endearing sight to see. Even her offbeat friendship-romance with Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who is weirdly entertaining and charming, is a delight as he seems to be a lost bum but also aspires to be and make something of himself, too.

Although the entire premise of the movie could seem predictable and straightforward, there’s something incredibly charming and different about how Brittany Runs goes about it. Writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo drew his story from his real-life friend Brittany, whom he says he shared “drunk nights at 3a.m.” on their apartment floor talking life with (the film, released through Amazon Studios, is also a project eight-years in the making).

Jillian Bell in BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, an Amazon Original release. (Credit: Material Pictures / Picture Films)

The film is full of witty lines and raw moments that aren’t overtly dramatic, sad or sappy. Rather, Brittany Runs is a comedy that takes us through the real-life experience of being a young millennial today. And it isn’t just about the simple goal of losing weight, but about the journey getting there — shedding the weight, shedding the toxic thought patterns and negative self-talk, only to come out better, stronger and happier. Through Brittany, we are given an incredibly relatable character who learns to grow through her adulthood — such as taking up a pet-sitting job and signing up for the New York City marathon — but also how to love, respect and accept yourself for who you are.

“It was never about running a marathon. It was about taking responsibility for your life.”

Brittany’s first run perfectly captures how every first-time runner might feel (and how I may have felt my first time just a few years ago, haha). As the camera lingers onto the block Brittany decides to run, it stretches out and seems like it’ll never end. She dodges clowns and passers-by in the streets of New York who get in her way. The road just seems to get longer and longer, but, after that first run, something happens, and she decides to take this thing seriously.

There were so many special moments throughout this movie that stuck with me: that conversation with Catherine on her bedroom floor, about how everything she is feeling is okay and she’s been there before; and how when Brittany’s friends wanted to help her most when she signs up for the marathon and struggles to raise the funds, she learns that she has to let go of her ego and let people in.

“Sometimes people just want to help. Sometimes people just want to give. You have to learn to let people in.”

Brittany Runs A Marathon is an incredibly heartfelt and inspiring comedy, drama and coming-of-age story that feels a lot more real than movies I’ve seen in the past (and it may well be one of my favorite films of the year). That ending scene and the way they are able to portray and honor the epic-ness of a marathon and the running community, was so just overwhelmingly beautiful that it put me to tears!

Although the movie doesn’t offer us a roadmap to self-discovery, it shows us one girl’s bittersweet journey of defeating her own insecurities, growing up and getting real with herself — all shown through a run. And in Brittany Runs, it’s more than just running a marathon. It’s about turning a corner just to keep on running.

Brittany Runs A Marathon is available in theaters August 23rd and available to stream on Amazon. Go to brittanyrunsamarathon.movie to stay updated.

If you check it out, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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