Sometimes you’ve just got to put one foot in front of another…
Brittany Runs A Marathon is a frank and earnest comedy about turning your life around that also manages to find a balance between laugh out loud hilarity and genuine quirky charm through a performance that sets Jillian Bell on the road to stardom.
Hilarious, outgoing and always up for a good time, New Yorker Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) is everybody’s best friend ― except maybe her own. At 27, her hard-partying ways, chronic underemployment and toxic relationships are catching up with her, but when she stops by a new doctor’s office to try to score some Adderall, she gets slapped with a prescription she never wanted: Get healthy. Too broke for a gym and too proud to ask for help, Brit is at a loss, until her seemingly together neighbor Catherine pushes her to lace up her Converse sneakers and run one sweaty block. The next day, she runs two. And soon, after finishing her first mile, she sets an almost unthinkable goal: running in the New York City Marathon.
With Brittany Runs A Marathon we get a strong feature debut from writer/director Paul Downs Collaizzo that balance the heartfelt with the flat out comedy that ropes us in with remarkable ease for the entire run of the film.
Jillian Bell steps to the forefront as a comedy star here as Brittany. As a woman at a crossroads, Jillian inhabits Brittany with heart and hilarity and reminds us that change in our lives only ever happens one step at a time. She’s gives us a charming and genuinely likable leading lady performance that makes us root for her if she’s picking herself up off the bathroom floor or trying to run the New York City Marathon.
Michaela Watkins is strong as her unexpected new friend in all this and the balance of the ensemble that includes Utkarsh Ambudkar as love interest Jern, Alice Lee as the bitchy ex-friend Gretchen, Micah Stock as the prototypical gay best friend and Lil Rey Howery as the unexpected brother in-law. It’s a New York movie filled with talented New York performers and while it’s not a movie loaded with faces and stars, it’s crammed to the brim with personality and that’s why it works.
Writer/Director Paul Downs Collaizzo comes off Broadway here in his feature debut that is both loaded with hilarity but heart all at the same time. It would have been easy to make a goofy comedy about a large woman wanting to run the marathon but there’s so much more infused in this film. Inspired by the director’s own best friend, it’s a story about a time in our lives that we all go through when we hit a rut and need reinvention for a variety of different reasons, plus it’s done through a character that we don’t expect have seen all the time. The ‘fat girl’ is a common character in the comedy universe, but she’s usually off to the side, not with the camera fully in her face. That’s where the brilliance in the film lies because most of us aren’t the pretty girl hoping for the cute boy to ask us out, we’re the fat girl with self-esteem issues and a bit of a sarcastic mess, and those moments where we learn to channel that kind of energy is where life happens.
Ultimately, Brittany Runs A Marathon is an earnest comedic delight because it’s honest with itself and its audiences which is where the comedy truly lies.