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Brittany Runs a Marathon – Movie Review

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Brittany Runs a Marathon – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

The latest movie to have an actor known for comedic roles jumping into a more dramatic film, Brittany Runs a Marathon finds the right balance in using Jillian Bell’s quirks. At the start, it doesn’t seem like Brittany will venture too far away from her usual stable of characters. However, like the central protagonist, the movie finds the right groove and allows us an entryway into Brittany’s growing passion for running. The movie isn’t afraid of showing her many flaws and the ways she attempts to improve her inner problems. Even though the film falls into the familiar Sundance template, it succeeds at being a solid dramedy.

Jillian Bell’s comedic roles have tended to be boisterous personalities with a suspicion towards everyone around her. Brittany Runs a Marathon is able to use that character trait to its advantage by exploring precisely why she is so disillusioned and trying to get away from that. Paul Downs Colaizzo, in his directing debut, uses running mostly as a motivator for Brittany and a needed end goal. After a certain point, there does reach a want to see her run the New York Marathon and cross the finish line. It’s through this story-arc that Colaizzo explores her relationships with other people.

The movie doesn’t break new ground in depicting her dating scenes, although it smartly portrays her lack of romance as a result of her personality. Brittany isn’t mocked for her appearance in the early part of the film and Colaizzo makes a point of calling out people who attribute weight loss with looking better. We do get the typical “boy meets girl” plotline at one point, but the chemistry makes up for the familiarities in this trope use. Brittany’s friendship with fellow runners Catherine and Seth feels the most genuine, as we see her become engrained within that culture and their combined enthusiasm (and exhaustion) with the activity.

Bell’s deadpan style of humour still comes through, as Brittany continually attempts to lighten the mood on several occasions. Some of the funniest remarks do come when the film finds humour out of the entire concept of running. However, she also proves her dramatic chops in several moments. Brittany certainly has her unlikeable traits, but we see her continually trying her best to overcome those aspects of her personality. When she does something particularly bad, there is some element of guilt that eventually succumbs. That is what separates the truly bad people from the more flawed individuals more likely to populate our planet.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is not necessarily a groundbreaking film on a storytelling level and it probably isn’t all that different from the sorts of independent movies that make their way through Sundance. However, the movie succeeds at its principal goal of letting us get to know its titular protagonist and the troubles she faces. Bell understands what makes her flawed and uses that to make Brittany someone worth investing in. Most people can probably guess what the outcome of the movie will be. However, Paul Downs Colaizzo directs the story with confidence and for a first effort, he shows a good amount of promise as a filmmaker.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison