Brittany Runs A Marathon

Jacob Richardson | 1/11/2019

A relatively funny film that delivers what it says on the box. 


Brittany Runs A Marathon follows Brittany (Jillian Bell); a failed advertising exec who is struggling to make ends meet and frequently waking up hungover with little recollection of the night before. At a doctors appointment, she finds out she is obese, and this sparks a desire to improve her life. To do so, she picks up running, and meets Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and Seth (Micah Stock). Together, they make a pledge to run the New York Marathon, and in almost a year of preparation Brittany makes a number of significant changes in her life. 


The most interesting thing about Brittany Runs A Marathon is that Brittany running the marathon is literally the least interesting part. Instead, this is actually a piece about Brittany’s personal growth, and in that it is strong indeed. The focus on her ability to transition, and grow personally particularly in her relationships with her friends and with herself, is the most interesting part of this movie. 


Jillian Bell is tremendous as Brittany. This isn’t your typical Bell comedic relief character, instead having quite a dramatic side. Bell doesn’t shy away from the unlikeable parts of her character, particularly in a scene when she returns to Philadelphia briefly. It adds a depth and complexity to her character that only adds to the movie’s impact. 


The supporting characters are all fine, but overshadowed by Utkarsh Ambudkar as Jern. The weirdest character BY FAR in this movie, this artistic and unbelievably lazy stoner goes through his own personal arc, although much less significant than Brittany’s. Jern is the comic relief for sure, but also at times the straight man for some of Brittany’s more out-there elements. He brightens the film immensely, and in particular in the more dramatic moments, and that makes the movie much more palatable. 


That being said, Brittany Runs A Marathon does frequently feel preachy and overly self-obsessed. It also feels overly long. Digressions to Philadelphia, while important for the character, stifle the story, and the final marathon running itself never really connects and actually seems to diminish the effect of Brittany’s progress outside of the marathon completion. 


Brittany Runs A Marathon is frequently funny and affecting, but also makes too many missteps to be a must see. Part of that comes down to the pursuit of ‘realness’, while also maintaining a structure that forces typicality.