Running a marathon always seems to be the go-to activity to do when things seems to be at a standstill or in a rut, as if traveling 26.2 miles on foot will magically fix all of life’s problems. That’s exactly what Jillian Bell decides to do in the aptly named Brittany Runs a Marathon. But life is never that simple and thankfully the film isn’t either. It’s a feel good story about self-discovery and help where, yes, the ultimate goal is for her to run the NYC marathon, but it’s not all about crossing that finish line but each and every step it takes to get there.
At the age of 27, Brittany (Bell) has realized that her life is nowhere near where she wants it to be. She spends her days working a job she hates and her nights partying with her so-called friends, who only see her as the funny fat friend of the group. Overall, she’s unhappy so in an effort to make things better she decides that she’s going to get in shape and run the New York City Marathon. She soon realizes that change isn’t going to happen overnight, though, and life is much like any amount of running; it has to be taken one step at a time.
Brittany Runs a Marathon may seem like any other motivational comedy/drama, and at some moments it is, but it’s also a heartfelt story that I feel anyone can connect with. I’m a runner myself. I ran cross country in high school and have sticked to lacing up my shoes on a weekly basis and the occasional 5/10K here and there. I’ve never run a marathon, however. Still, the film’s not really about running one mile or 26 of them. It may start out that way, especially for Brittany, but the story hits its stride when she begins to lose the pounds and get noticed by the people around her and yet nothing truly changes because her attitude hasn’t changed.
For her entire life, Brittany has put up these walls that have shut out those trying to get close to her. She makes running friends with her upstairs neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and fellow runner Set (Micah Stock) but she only sees them as people who run with her. If they ever try and do something nice because they’re friends, Brittany only sees it as them pitying her. When Brittany first goes to the doctor she finds out that she has plenty of physical problems and the running easily solves those. It’s her mentality that’s much more difficult to fix, and that’s when the film becomes more than just your typical dramedy.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is a feel good film that captures the mental gymnastics we all sometimes struggle with as we reach a wall in our lives. Jillian Bell leads a cast of exciting characters that’ll have you cheering from the sidelines. Sure, it falls into many of the same tropes we’ve seen before and you can practically see them coming from a mile away, but sometimes we all need that one film that feels familiar and is a welcoming comfort. Brittany Runs a Marathon is that kind of film.