Brittany Runs a Marathon review

Life, at times, can be overwhelming. Society tells us we should be a certain way, have a certain type of life at a certain age, and if we don’t abide by these archaic ideals we feel like we are off-kilter with the world. In these moments we are tempted to make drastic changes to find our balance again. While they are stoic ideas, most people don’t go further than simple changes like a hair cut. However, in the new film by Paul Downs Colaizzo, Brittany Runs a Marathon, our heroine takes these changes to the extreme.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is about Brittany (Jillian Bell), a twenty something who is stuck in her life. All around her people are evolving and advancing, but she’s on a work-partying repeat schedule. On top of that, she’s not in the best health. Fed up with where she is and where she wants to be, Brittany decides to take her life back into her hands and does the logical next step. She sets a goal for herself to run the New York City Marathon.

Images provided by Amazon Studios

Images provided by Amazon Studios

Believe me, it’s not as easy as it sounds, and Brittany explore all the turmoil of these life realizations and new exercise regimen. Most people can’t just get up and begin running one day, and this film doesn’t act like you can. Brittany Runs a Marathon doesn’t shy away with how mentally traumatic it can be to drastically change your life, and Brittany goes through several stages open and honestly.

She also handles a lot of it through humor, and this film is a conduit for the hilarity that is Bell’s talent. Brittany Runs a Marathon sets up from the beginning that Brittany sees the world tilted towards the humorous. From the moment we meet Brittany, we love her for her sweet nature and the joyous humor she brings into the room. She uses her comic timing to ease tension, adds enjoyment to a situation, as well as redirect the pain she’s internally feeling. That last bit ends up making more of an impact on the viewer than expected.

What Brittany Runs a Marathon does so well is set up a character and a world where there is always something just below the surface that holds importance. It’s not so much that nothing is what it seems as it is acknowledging that people and situations have dimensions. The audience can connect to Brittany and her struggles, as well as her friends because we’ve all been there. I have to admit, I was not prepared for how much I connected to this film. For the first time in a long while I felt like I was watching a character that represented myself on the big screen, and that is a powerful thing.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is a great film, one that I throughly enjoyed, but the biggest take away for me was the way representation was presented in this film. The film was sprinkled with a multi-generational, ethnic, orientation, and stature cast. Sure, the character of Brittany is supposed to transform from a person of ill-health to a serious runner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the casting was going to adhere to this transformation. Most films don’t base casting on realistic representation, just what will be a draw to the audience by selecting well-known names (who most of the time are of a smaller stature to begin with). The representative casting goes beyond Brittany, and everyone in her world is a ‘non-traditional’ casting. It’s interesting to bring this up, because our world is so multi-everything it should be represented in film, but there are still films that don’t do that, and it’s a lovely thing when I notice a film does in fact, mimic our world.

Images provided by Amazon Studios

Images provided by Amazon Studios

The element of representation could also be attributed to the fact that this film was produced by an indie studio, Amazon. With a streaming network leading the charge of the production, there is already a built-in viewing plan so they don’t have to necessarily worry about what the box-office will look like from theater sales. When there is less worry about money, there is more of an openness to focus on the stories the films are showcasing. The story has always been the focus of indie studios from their inception in the early 1990s, but these studios seem to be making a different kind of trailblazing. 

Now indie studios are leading the way in showing that films can have an array of diversity in the cast and still do well with audiences. While the multi-elements of Brittany Runs a Marathon is important, this film is more powerful than that. it’s a heartfelt story about an obese woman who finds her true self through the work she puts into her self and not through a romance, work, or other’s validation. Colaizzo captured what many people feel, unseen, and gave them the strength to better themselves, by showing that this strength resides in all of us.

There are so many wonderful things about Brittany Runs a Marathon that it would be wrong of me to take those away from the audience. The best way to experience the joy that is this movie is to encourage as many people as I can to go see this film as soon as you can. It’s a touching story we can all relate to in a way, and it’s wonderful to finally see ourselves represented on film.

Brittany Runs a Marathon opens nation wide on August 23rd and in Austin Texas on August 30th.

Written by Lisa M Mejia
Images provided by Amazon Studios