Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

Brittany Runs a Marathon is a lovely little film, director Paul Colaizzo’s debut feature. It’s heartwarming, raw, crowd-pleasing and motivating in the nicest possible way.

Home Run

by Alexa Dalby

Brittany Runs A Marathon

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Brittany Runs A Marathon may seem at first like a single-issue film but it goes the extra mile. It’s funny, endearing and inspirational in a totally unsentimental way.

At first chubby Brittany (actor and comedian Jillian Bell) seems like the stereotypical fat person who compensates for being overweight by cracking jokes and cultivating a big personality. She lives in a shared flat with an old-friend – toxic flatmate (Alice Lee) – and works as an assistant in a fringe theatre. But when a routine medical check puts her in the obese category, a doctor warns her that she needs to do more exercise and lose weight or face serious health consequences. The shock makes her miserably acknowledge to herself that she’s nearing thirty and she’s going nowhere in life – she’s stuck, she doesn’t have a proper job or a relationship. So, to her own surprise, she takes the doctor’s advice.

That brief description makes the film sound more serious than it is. In fact, it’s a joy. Brittany is a very likeable, funny character and when she decides the way to go to sort her life out is to start running, we’re with her every step of the way. It’s hard, but for the first time in her life she has a goal and she’s determined. She’s lucky in getting the emotional support of two kind running partners who become friends (divorcée neighbour Michaela Watkins and gay dad Micah Stock) and she has a supportive family.

We see our heroine visibly shrinking before our eyes as she pounds the streets in training over the course of a year. It’s not a fantasy. Jillian Bell really did the training we see in the film and lost 40 pounds. And as the weight melts off, Brittany grows the confidence to make positive changes in her life. But the film never says that losing weight in itself will solve all your problems: it’s by no means a typical transformation film. At times Brittany finds it very hard to keep going, she has some real struggles and setbacks, she’s not always nice, but the more she motivates herself, the more things work out.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is director Paul Colaizzo’s tribute to his friend Brittany who ran the New York marathon.

Brittany Runs a Marathon is released on 1 November 2019 in the UK.

Join the discussion