Confronting Personal Hurdles
We all have our marathons to run. Whether battling drug addiction, fighting a disease, or simply trying to raise a family the right way, life is hard and it presents many challenges that we must overcome to be happy with ourselves. In the uproariously funny yet unexpectedly poignant Brittany Runs a Marathon, the titular characterís marathon is both literal and figurative as Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell/21 Jump Street) decides to confront her personal hurdles head on by pledging to run in the New York City Marathon.
Brittany has a huge problem though. She is 50 pounds overweight, drinks too much (and too often), and is barely employed, so she is forced to dig deep within her soul to muster whatever she can to change not only her body, but how much sense she can make of her life going forward.
The film is written and directed by award-winning playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo and is based on the real-life story of 28-year-old millennial Brittany OíNeill who could barely walk a city block much less run a marathon. However, like the filmís main character, she eventually decides to try and turn her directionless life around by running in the New York City Marathon.
And so begins her transformation one Manhattan city block at a time with the help and encouragement of friends and fellow running partners Catherine (Michaela Watkins/Wanderlust) and Seth (Micah Stock/Escape at Dannemora), who are each as flawed as the other, yet somehow forge a bond of friendship and self-determination.
As she racks up the miles and the pounds melt away -- marked by periodic looks at a bathroom scale, Brittany soon realizes that her biggest challenge wonít be the 26.2 miles, but rather her lifelong path to personal redemption.
You see, Brittany has little family and few friends and has been anything but a loving companion to those around her. In fact, the arc Bellís character takes from hateful schlub to adoring inspiration is quite remarkable. And hats off to both Colaizzo and Bell for pulling off such a complex character. Brittany is oftentimes downright hateful -Ė including one squeamishly awkward scene in which she fat-shames a party guest. And playing up those flaws runs the risk of totally alienating the audience. But the way in which Colaizzo has written the character, coupled with Bellís mesmerizing performance earns the big emotions at the filmís climax. This role will undoubtedly springboard the former SNL writer to much bigger things. Sheís that good here.
Anyone who has struggled with weight issues or poor body image -- who hasnít? -- will find something to like in Brittany Runs a Marathon. By packing the contentious issue within the structure of a lighthearted comedy, Colaizzo ensures a truly enjoyable experience that is inspirational, heartwarming, and gut-bustlingly funny yet never comes off as overly preachy. Brittany is always the life of the party, but we soon learn that her party girl lifestyle is just her way of trying to fit in.
You donít have to break out the sweats and lace up the sneakers to begin the journey of taking control of your life. Just ask Brittany who reminds us that who you are isnít defined by numbers on a scale, how much money you make, or how many miles you can run. Itís about learning to become the center of our own stories. After all, we all have our own marathon to run.
(Released by Amazon Studios and rated ďRĒ for language throughout, sexuality and some drug use.)
Review also posted at www.franksreelreviews.com.