Brittany Runs a Marathon

COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 43min

STARRING: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar

Coffee run: Bell

Brittany Forgler (actress-comedian Bell) is a 27-year-old New York party animal who, when not cracking wise in her off-Broadway theatre job, is on a fast track to a health crisis. She’s overweight and unfit with the blood pressure to match, plus she drinks too much. When her new doctor (Patch Darragh) calls her on these dispiriting truths, Brittany is not a happy chappie—especially since what she really wanted was a script for Adderall.


And so it is that when Brittany takes up running, it’s in the spirit of “damned if I do and damned for sure if I don’t.” The road to self-improvement is no cakewalk, either. Her flatmate, Gretchen (Alice Lee), is skinny and hedonistic, not to mention catty when pushed, aka no help with anything. Her upstairs neighbour Catherine (Watkins) means maybe too well. Her new house-sitting job comes with an unexpected free-loader (Ambudkar as a free-loader-slash-love-interest). She joins a dating site, about which, least said. Still Brittany keeps pounding those pavements—now with her new running buddy, Seth (Micah Stock), and Catherine in tow—shedding pounds and pushing through obstacles, not the least them herself, to reach the Holy Grail of the New York City Marathon.


Since underdog-makes-good is a dime a dozen premise, central to any investment in writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s funny, reality-inspired—the real Brittany is his bestie—and roundly heartfelt first feature is the pulling power of its leading lady. Bell-as-Brittany is a bubbly, spiky contradiction in terms, drawing people to her only to push them defensively away. She’s every self-sabotaging dreamer out there, yet uniquely her own, relatable self. And by the time she makes the starting line of the marathon she hadn’t imagined was possible, she’s the poster girl for staying power she never knew she could become.