Movies are a weird thing, objectively they can differ with everyone and you can either connect to them on a deep level or just see them as fun and move past it. For me, Brittany Runs a Marathon is nothing but miraculous. Connecting to films isn’t new to me, every year there’s just one movie that sits with me for a long time and I just wait for it to leave me only to become part of me. I have a feeling that Brittany Runs a Marathon will be just that to me. From beginning to end, the film spoke to me. I understood it and what the characters were going through. I never felt like the film was preaching to me, instead, it was just going through me and making me feel all the emotions possible. See, just like the character of Brittany (Jillian Bell), I lost a lot of weight. While we did it for a very different reason, I could understand everything she was going through because I went through it all too.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is funny from beginning to end, and even when it goes into the emotions that the characters are feeling, they still find a way to create humour. The thing is, that humour never feels out of place, it always seems real. That is often the problem with comedy that also happens to have drama in it. The comedy feels pushed at times, doesn’t blend with the dramatic aspects of the film. This film doesn’t run into this problem and that is mostly due to the great performance given by Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street, Rough Night). We know that she is funny, we’ve seen it multiple times in comedies but with this film, she showcases another side of her. A side that she hasn’t been able to use that much until now. At times, Brittany Runs a Marathon is hard to watch. After all, you are watching someone’s rock bottom and that isn’t easy. The broken aspect of Brittany is sold so well by Bell that it makes it even more emotional.
Brittany Runs a Marathon doesn’t break grounds when it comes to sports movies. It follows the formula of most of them but that doesn’t make it a bad movie, it’s the other way around. Because it follows the formula that is already established, it’s free to go deeper into the characters. While Brittany is at the centre of the film, the supporting cast is as important. The relationships that she makes develop naturally, the breakups feel real, the friendships are genuine. It feels organic, doesn’t feel forced and it works. Instead of just focusing on Brittany, it becomes about other people too. Her friends that always made her feel bad about herself so they could feel better about themselves, the woman who used to judge her so much only to become one of her closest friend, the guy the goes from enemy to a friend to lover. It’s stories that we all know but because the filmmaker took the time to develop Brittany, her life feels real and the people in it do too.
The evolution of Brittany as a character feels real. The way the story goes about to showcase how Brittany isn’t flawless and needs to change her life never feels like preaching. It’s not about not loving yourself, something a lot of movie about weight try to showcase. It’s about doing it for yourself. The way the story weaves the message in is interesting, it never tries to create a sentiment that being thinner is better. Brittany was doing just fine in her head, she was okay with being overweight. It wasn’t until she started losing the weight that she understood what it meant. The way the film tries to make you understand that she needs to do it for the right reasons. Not because a doctor told her, not because of her friends or family. She needs to do it for herself. And it’s only when she understands that message that she can truly change. The film is never about the weight, it’s about herself and it’s only by loosing the weight that she figures her life out. The weight was just another clutch that she was using to hide her insecurities. And that I can connect to a very deep level. Using weight to blame everything else is something that so many people do, I use to do. And it’s only when she starts changing her life around her that losing the weight isn’t just about that anymore.
Where other movies fail, Brittany Runs a Marathon succeeds. It becomes a story about victory and loving yourself and not about shame and hate. It does everything in its power to showcase that a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about weight and I can appreciate that. There’s a powerful scene towards the end of the film where Brittany is at her lowest and she takes out her anger on an overweight woman who is friends with her family. The answer that she is given rings so true, I won’t spoil it because it is so powerful. I will only say that every word that was said in the message that Brittany receives is the reason why this film works so well. Because weight might be a big part of Brittany’s life but it isn’t all of it.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is a delight from the first second to the last. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and doesn’t let you breathe between your laughs and cries. It’s a movie that deserves your attention and is important. It never tries to break the mould but instead embraces it and runs with it in order to create a wonderful film.