Brittany Runs a Marathon
Brittany Runs a Marathon follows an overweight woman named Brittany Forgler who sets out to shift some pounds by training for a marathon.
There are many Hollywood films which tell the stories of long-distance runners.
Michael Douglas starred in 1979's Running, while even 1994's Forrest Gump had Tom Hanks criss-cross America in an act of catharsis.
But the latest feature about a runner, director Paul Downs Colaizzo's Brittany Runs a Marathon, brings the activity directly into 2019, and follows the journey of a young, overweight woman named Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell).
After years of hard-partying and late-night adventures, Brittany receives a startling wake-up call when she is denied an Adderall prescription by her doctor (Patch Darragh) and he instead explains how her weight is impacting her health, putting her at risk of serious illness.
He advises her to take up some sort of exercise, and after discovering she can't afford a gym membership in New York City, Brittany decides to lace-up her sneakers and do a lap around the block.
Though she can barely make it to the corner without collapsing, her father's medical history motivates her to slowly build up her distance, and on one day, she is invited to join a running club by her wealthy and seemingly-perfect neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins).
Brittany despises Catherine at first, but she ends up meeting Seth (Micah Stock) in the group, and the trio end up bonding over their fitness goals - culminating in them deciding to aim for the New York City Marathon one day.
Wisely, the film doesn't just focus on the highs and lows of running for miles on end, which would have become boring pretty quickly, and depicts the character undergoing a slow yet fulfilling physical and mental transformation.
Jillian, perhaps best known for her role in TV show Workaholics, does a great job at depicting Brittany build up her confidence as she takes up a job as a house and pet sitter, where she meets fellow house sitter Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), and after a particularly harsh encounter, makes the decision to distance herself from her toxic party girl flatmate Gretchen (Alice Lee).
This movie isn't about Cinderella-esque transformations and it's inspiring to see Brittany changing over time, embracing better eating habits and positive relationships, as she seeks to move on with her life, whilst always retaining her dark sense of humour.
Somehow, the actress also manages to tap into her character's anxieties, and when she suffers a setback in realising her target, there's an exceptional scene in which she is forced to confront her internalised fatphobia.
The exchanges between Jillian and Utkarsh are fast-paced and entertaining, while casting Lil Rel Howery as her brother-in-law Demetrius was inspired.
The only flaw in Brittany Runs a Marathon is that it's almost as if Colaizzo couldn't decide if he wanted to make a drama, sports film, or dark comedy, however, this is well made up for by quality performances from the central cast and a smart take on issues affecting young women today, especially body positivity and self-worth.
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