Brittany Runs a Marathon

Brittany Runs a Marathon ★★★★★

2019 movie viewings, #123. I meant to see this in the theater and then missed it, so I was glad to see it get picked up by Amazon and heavily promoted in their Prime Video service. A rare starring vehicle for Jillian Bell, the straight-laced secret weapon of the always chaos-embracing Workaholics, it's also the debut feature of respected playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo, which at first seems like it's going to be just another aspirational dramedy about a hard-partying, overweight twentysomething who, after a health scare, vows to clean up her act by spending a year training for the New York City Marathon. Where this hilarious but heartbreaking script takes a welcome left turn, though, is that the self-loathing titular Brittany seems determined to self-sabotage her own Hallmark movie, not only failing over and over but severely injuring herself just weeks before the marathon that would usually be the stirring climax of such a story, gleeful to angrily reject the reaching out her friends do exactly when she could use the help the most. In short, it's a much more realistic look at how these kinds of aspirational goals actually work out in the real world, tailor-made three-act tales that take messy and unexpected turns when you try them in real life; and when combined with Bell's courageously self-deprecatory portrayal of our profoundly flawed hero (including actually losing 40 pounds in real life during the course of making the movie), it results in what's easily the best character-heavy indie dramedy I've seen in years, one that entirely earns every tear of joy you'll shed by the end. Strongly recommended, especially since it's completely free to stream for all Amazon Prime members.

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