Brittany Runs a Marathon

Sep 16, 2019

It's an  intriguing run with a complicated heroine.

Brittany Runs a Marathon

Grade: B+

Director: Paul Downs Colalzzo

Screenplay: Colalzzo

Cast: Jillian Bell (Inherent Vice),  Jennifer Dundas (The Post)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 44 min

By: John DeSando

“Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.”Angela Duckworth

As self-empowerment sagas, Brittany Runs a Marathon is near the head of the line: Brittany (Jillian Bell) starts out thinking of improvement to her body, her love life, and her ambition. It’s a heavy load, and Bell, together with writer/director Paul Downs Colalzzo, is up to the task of being overweight and diffident with a cache of one liners and overall sense of humor to make up for her flaws and endear herself to just about anyone else, especially us.

The film is adept at not ramming through the big transformation, which in inevitable, a part of the formula for these comedies with overweight and hung-up ladies of considerable charm and talent.

The film allows Brittany to proceed at her own pace, signified by the slow release of 35 pounds and a will to improve. (Let’s hear it for her bodysuit.) The virtue here is allowing her to stumble and get up again with a quiet sense of humor rarely seen in a comedy/drama.

As in life, the transformation is slow and fraught with setbacks; yet we can at that pace better experience her real-life struggles as they are entertaining and occasionally eccentric. When she comes to redemption, she’s like a family member we desperately want to succeed. The big success will be the NYC Marathon, where she and 50,000 others will mostly hope just to finish.

Likewise, Brittany hopes to finish her exercise initiative without a fanfare her friends promote. Like most of us, she just wants to get it over with (both the race and the regimen). Brittany is an everyman/woman with dreams that just don’t come easily.

The beauty of this comedy/drama is the lack of big payoff in any endeavor, especially NYC, where so many compete on so many levels. Brittany is a solid citizen with a sense of humor that she loses mostly in the serious part of her adventure toward the end, even though I can’t correlate this attitude with my experience, in which many overweight friends don’t lose that sense of humor even in the most downbeat circumstances.

Just run along with her and enjoy her humor and mood swings and her engaging set of friends, most of whom have learned how to race life’s marathon.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at