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I love indie films. So although I knew very little about the Amazon Original Brittany Runs a Marathon, when my daughter invited me to go watch it with her, I happily agreed. I expected a comedy, with an inspirational twist. It was that…and so much more.
Elissa and I met at Bookhouse Cinema, Joplin’s wonderful indie movie theater, for some amazing vegan food before the film.
This is a spoiler free review of Brittany Runs a Marathon, meaning I’ll discuss key plot points but I won’t give away the ending or discuss every detail.
Brittany Runs a Marathon Cast
This comedy/drama stars Jillian Bell, Alice Lee, Patch Darragh, Michaela Watkins, Micah Stock and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Paul Downs Colaizzo wrote and directed Brittany Runs a Marathon. Events in the life of his friend, Brittany O’Neill, inspired the story. The film carries an R rating, for language and adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 44 minutes.
Brittany (Bell) lives and works in New York City. In her mid twenties, Brittany feels her life isn’t going anywhere. Her friend and roommate Gretchen (Lee) has a boyfriend and a great job and a life plan that relies heavily on social media.
However, Brittany works in a low paying job and her social life consists primarily of late night bar hopping and brief encounters that can’t in any way be called romantic. Struggling to find motivation to even get out of bed in the mornings, Brittany seeks medical help.
She hopes for an Adderall prescription. But her Yelp recommended doctor (Darragh) surprises her. He prescribes getting healthy by eating better, drinking less alcohol and exercising regularly.
Brittany’s first attempts at exercise fail. The gym proves too costly and she suits up for a run but barely makes it out the door before giving up. Her fit upstairs neighbor, Catherine (Watkins), encourages Brittany to try again…taking baby steps…and invites her to join a Saturday morning running club.
Brittany manages to run for one block. However, when Saturday morning arrives, she joins the running club, determined to do better.
Training for a Marathon
Among the club members, Brittany connects with Seth (Stock), a newbie runner like her. They wheeze and commiserate with each other as they bring up the rear of the pack. Something shifts in Brittany though as she completes a two mile run. Running gives her direction and purpose and a way to change her health. She eats better. Drinks water rather than wine. And she stops the late night partying.
Running with Catherine and Seth becomes a weekly practice. The three friends set a huge goal: run the New York City Marathon.
They have one year to train. Brittany commits to this new chapter in her life and realizes the cost, literally, of training. To pay for the gym membership she takes a second job, dog sitting for the wealthy. At her first assignment she meets Jern (Ambudkar), a quirky, artistic young man who works the night shift dog sitting in the same house. Jern annoys her…initially. However as Brittany’s life continues to shift the two declare a truce and a relationship blossoms between them.
As the months count down toward the marathon, Brittany transforms. The weight loss is noticeable and she runs with greater ease and endurance. It’s the inner changes though that create the different outer reality. And it’s the old, inner hurts and insecurities, working themselves out, that create new challenges. Brittany’s greatest obstacle to the life she desires is herself. Will she be there at the marathon starting line…or will she take herself out of the race before it ever starts?
My Thoughts on Brittany Runs a Marathon
I enjoyed this fun and thought provoking film. The health aspect of the story line drew me in immediately. I appreciated the no meds approach to improved health. Brittany took responsibility…or not…for her own health and I loved that. She made choices about food, drinking, exercise and partying. And she either benefited or suffered as a result.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is so much more than a health transformation story. The real changes began to occur within first, and that’s the element that touched me deeply. Brittany had more than health issues to work through. Her excess weight was a way of hiding who she really was. She also hid behind a sarcastic sense of humor and resigned herself to the role of flatterer in her friendships. At her core, she didn’t accept herself. Brittany’s self criticism became the lens through which she viewed others and life.
As much as I enjoyed watching Brittany’s health improve, I strongly appreciated seeing the deeper transformations that occurred. And I applauded the important topics that the film touched upon including self worth, toxic relationships and how the world perceives those who carry extra weight.
By the end of the film, which does contain many laugh out loud moments, I found my eyes full of tears and my heart charged with the desire to stand up and cheer. For me, that makes Brittany Runs a Marathon a great film, worthy of recommendation.
Catch Brittany Runs a Marathon at your local theater or indie movie house, or see it beginning November 22 on Amazon Prime Video.
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Brittany Runs a Marathon Soundtrack. Click on photo to order.
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