By Laurie Coker
From the trailers, the debut from the writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo, Brittany Runs and Marathon looks like a goofy, body-shaming film in line with those by Amy Schumer, but it is far more. Colaizzo gives a little film with a big heart and Jillian Bell serves up a subtly touching and tight performance with a realistically witty bite.
Brittany Runs a Marathon a New York-set indie comedy gives ex-Saturday Night Live comedian Jillian Bell the platform for a charming and authentic performance as a woman who takes up running to lose weight and get fit while traversing love, career and friendships in the big city. Brittany’s biggest obstacle is not her weight as much as it is her own self-doubt, which she attempts to bury in reckless behavior and poor decisions. Finally, at the coaxing of an unlikely friend, Catherine (Michaela Watkins), Brittany embarks on a journey to train for, run and finish a marathon.
Bell’s performance is delightfully honest. She capably creates a deeply-layered and highly relatable character. Her performance has heart, and Bell allows us to connect and feel every step of Brittany’s journey. She finds a perfect pace in her delivery and demonstrates talent beyond her typically, toxic comic rantings. The ensemble cast rocks and Watkins is the perfect person to play Catherine, who Brittany starts out disliking for all the wrong reasons. The chemistry is awesome.
Colaizzo, who wrote the story based on the life of a personal friend, captures a perfect blend of drama and comedy. He surprises with humor one moment and sadness the next. His characters are real, some shallow, others disturbed and depressed. Brittany lives in a real world where people are caring and others are mean and where reality can kick butt.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is a refreshing surprise in entertainment. It is not full of itself and it makes viewers feel. It is about self-discovery and personal redemption and it has a great ending. Hopefully, Colaizzo will bring more of his heart-warming stories so the screen. While not perfect, Brittany earns a solid B in the grade book. It’s worth full price for sure.