Film review: ‘BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Falling somewhere between Run Fat Boy Run, Muriel’s Wedding and most Rebel Wilson films, comedy/drama Brittany Runs A Marathon is an amiable, subtly subversive but underwhelming story of fat shaming, destructive self-loathing and the mixed blessings of life transformation.

Brittany (Jillian Bell) is an irresponsible, partially employed, 28-year-old New York party animal who thinks responsibility, commitment and healthy living are for pretentious posers. When a doctor tells her that her weight is becoming seriously unhealthy, she reluctantly decides to make some lifestyle changes. On the advice of a neighbour Catherine (Michaela Watkins) at whom she normally sneers, Brittany reluctantly decides to join a running group. As her health improves, she agrees to join Catherine and friend Seth (Micah Stock) in the New York marathon but the path proves even more difficult than she imagined.

In its early scenes this film provides some sharp acerbic comedy as Brittany’s flippant attitude collides with the success-obsessed world around her. Quickly, though, the film settles into cruise control with a mostly predictable (if still enjoyable) story of self-loathing, reflection and relapse and only occasional moments of genuine humour.

Through Brittany, Jillian Bell does, however, add dimension to a familiar cinematic character. While essentially the film’s heroine, Brittany isn’t always the most likeable person, her self-loathing and disappointment at times turns into nasty attacks on friends including one remarkably venomous drunken outburst at a barbeque.

As well as Brittany’s training regimen and confrontations with friends, the film follows her through the dating minefield but as her health and fitness wax and wane so does her attitude and as a result most of her attempts at romance end badly. These relationship stumbles, however, aren’t especially warm, poignant or funny.

As a sporting achievement drama, the film just about works. Seeing Brittany improve is encouraging even though the film has her making surprisingly rapid progress. Her attempt to tackle the marathon is somewhat truncated but still offers some moving moments.

Brittany Runs A Marathon is a slight and familiar film that isn’t quite as funny as needed to be but with Bell’s charismatic central performance it has just enough charm to win over most audiences.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Comedy/ drama.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Paul Downs Colaizzo

Release date: 31st Oct 2019.

Running time: 103 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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