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Brittany Runs a Marathon

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Hey, guess what happens in the movie "Brittany Runs a Marathon?" Yup, a woman named Brittany eventually laces up her shoes and hits a 26.2-mile course in New York. As someone who completed 20 marathons including six at Boston, I relate to the movie's action and consider it intriguing. However, those weaned on superhero activities might find Brittany's pace too slow, plus the script involves more talk than action. Also, much as I adore running, I admit it lacks visual intensity for viewers.

Fortunately, writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo realizes this and focuses on another aspect we marathon runners discover: the transformative power that training for the course provides. As played by Saturday Night Live writer and Las Vegas native Jillian Bell, Brittany definitely needs transforming. Floundering in Manhattan with lackluster work, few friends, and too much enthusiasm for food, pills, and alcohol, Brittany sees herself as a fat-girl loser. She fends off her insecurities with a whip-smart sense of humor and funny antics, but eventually the jokes wear thin. Ironically, Brittany wants "thin," but on her body, not life in general. Lacking any easy cure for her foibles, Brittany puts on those shoes, still able to joke and make fun of herself, even as she finds her life changing for the better.

The script and Bell's engaging performance catch the special bonding that happens between runners, especially when they set a shared goal. Rather than dwell on the logistics of training, the movie addresses the more universal theme about the need for introspection and facing truths about oneself.

As a side note, a marathon bears many traits in common with life in general; I attended a program by Olympic runner Jeff Galloway, hired by companies to guide employees through marathons because the traits needed to train for and complete the race apply to business projects as well. One lesson involves setbacks — they happen, and Brittany finds a few in her movie as she faces a reality that might not include a marathon medal. With elements of reality plus a great deal of humor and empathy, "Brittany Runs a Marathon" provides a viable view of how get back on track with life and find a better course.


This review was originally aired on 10/3/2019.

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