By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
“Brittany Runs a Marathon”
is one charming, funny and inspirational movie about self-discovery and beating the odds.
Playwright/director Paul Downs Colaizzo (Stage play, “Really Really”) making his feature-film debut, has crafted an earnest, crowd-pleasing indie film that’s based on his college roommate’s real-life experience.
Jillian Bell (“22 Jump Street” and TV’s “Human Discoveries”) stars as Brittany Forgler, a 28-year old New Yorker who isn’t much of a people person.
In fact, when we first meet Brittany, it’s hard to like her. She’s quick with a put down, drinks and eats too much, parties too hard, is overweight, and quite the slacker at the Off-Broadway theater where she works as an usher.
Brittany’s childish and irresponsible behavior is wearing thin with her boss too.
Her cute and petite roommate, Gretchen (Alice Lee, TV’s “Take Two”) is also a party animal and a social media junkie. Brittany often feels Gretchen treats her like a “fat sidekick.” How these two have managed to live together for as long as they have is beyond me.
Brittany visits a doctor to try and con him into prescribing her some Adderall. He refuses and instead gives her a very honest and grim prognosis. Her blood pressure is high. So is her Body Mass Index (BMI). She needs to stop smoking. She has a fatty liver and better start exercising and eating right.
The news does little for Brittany’s already low self-esteem. But, as much as the truth hurts, she knows she’s got to do something.
One day she puts on some baggy sweats, laces up her old Converse sneakers and attempts to run to the end of the block. She makes it, but it almost kills her. The next day she tackles another block and then more.
Brittany’s snooty, downstairs neighbor, Catherine (Michaela Suzanne Watkins, TV’s “Casual” and “Saturday Night Live”) is the organizer of a runner’s group and invites her to join. Reluctantly Brittany does. It takes a bit, but she starts to experience that runners high. She swaps burgers for salads and in the process, begins to shed pounds while building up her stamina.
The results on the scale, in the mirror and even from some male acquaintances inspire her to keep moving. She also meets another runner in Catherine’s group named Seth (Micha Stock, TV’s “Bonding”) who is about as out of shape as she is, and they strike up a nice friendship.
Seth’s goal is to run The New York City Marathon, which is a joke to Brittany, until Seth and Catherine tell her she should seriously consider it and they could all train together. Training for the marathon comes with a price. Brittany realizes she needs a well-paying job to finance her seemingly impossible dream.
She lucks out and gets a dog-sitting gig at a tony house in Manhattan. It’s here she meets Jern (a very funny Utkarsh Ambudkar, “Barbershop: The Next Cut”). This guy is a fast-talking slacker too that throws Brittany for a loop. Game recognizes game. Not only has Jern been pulling house watching duties too, he’s been secretly living in the place.
Just when you think their relationship is going to blossom into some nice romantic affair, it doesn’t. In fact, the best thing about “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is that things don’t come together all nice and neatly like you’d expect in similar dramas/comedies. They often fall apart, like when Brittany relapses, starts drinking and begins to put on weight. During a family outing with her sister and brother-in-law (Lil Rel Howery, “Uncle Drew” and “Get Out”), a drunken Brittany thoroughly fat shames their friend’s wife.
Brittany does finally come out of her funk, finds her footing and the courage to run the marathon while keeping in mind it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
There has been some exceptional small budget, specialty movies this year and “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is another triumphant breakthrough among the pack.
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Watch This Crazy Trailer For "BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.