Not gonna lie, I had been anticipating Brittany Runs a Marathon ever since I saw the trailer some months ago, and not gonna lie, my initial feeling when the end credits rolled was "that's it?"
Even with its running (pun not intended) time (103 minutes), the film's ending somehow feels not satisfying enough.
We meet the titular character, a 27-year-old New-Yorker Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) with issues that include drinking problem, not wanting to be helped, and using accents and bits to deflect from real problems (she taped her nose up and becomes Wilbur from Charlotte's Web when her boss at a theater she works tells her she can't be late all the time).
Brittany goes to a physician to score some Adderall and that's when she's told she has to make some lifestyle changes since her body mass index shows her being overweight.
"I feel like you're totally missing the point of those Dove ads," she says, referring to advertisements that promote body positivity.
When Brittany breaks down in her apartment, her upstairs neighbor, Catherine (Michaela Watkins) with whom Brittany has a contentious relationship with (Catherine always tells Brittany and her roommate Gretchen to pick up after their things), knocks on Brittany's door to ask her if she's okay. Unable to shake Catherine off at first, Brittany tells her how she feels (she's almost 30, her life's not going anywhere), and Catherine tells her to take it day by day.
True to the adage, the journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step, Brittany starts to run, something she can afford after a visit to a gym reveals a healthy lifestyle can set her back hundreds of dollars.
Catherine, after seeing Brittany all sweaty post-running, tells her to join her running group every Saturday, which Brittany begrudgingly goes to, and meets Seth (Micah Stock), who's also struggling to run and only does so because his kids make fun of him for not being athletic.
From then, their friendship grows, and the trio (Brittany, Seth, and Catherine) vows to do the New York City marathon.
As someone who's been struggling with body image, there're so many takeaways from this movie.
First, you can't be too lazy to start, and when you do, you need to have self-discipline. Brittany is very good at this that she becomes obsessed and physically hurts herself that she needs to drop out of the marathon that Catherine and Seth run.
Second, sooner or later, you'll start recognizing those who support you and those who don't, and it's OK to shed those who turn out to not be your friends. This happens to be Brittany's roommate Gretchen, a narcissistic Instagrammer (that's a bit redundant) who either fakes or never takes interest in Brittany's new-found love with running. And to a lesser extent, to Jern, Brittany's "coworker" turned lover in a house-sitting job they shared at a swanky townhouse.
Third, group exercise is fun. It helps make friends, brings out of the shell, and nurtures our competitive edge (in a good way, hopefully). Catherine and Seth remind and support Brittany to keep running, to be healthier, and to be happy. Accountability is a key point here, and having friends to remind us of our goals is crucial.
Fourth, sometimes you have to seek and accept help. This is Brittany's biggest issue in the movie. She's already hostile to Catherine, even when Catherine has been nothing but supportive, and when Catherine, Seth, and Seth's husband wants to pay for Brittany's marathon registration, Brittany flatly tells them she doesn't need their pity. It is her brother-in-law Demetrius (Lil Rel Howery) who has been her de-facto father when her actual dad passed away, who reminds that it is okay to seek help.
Fifth, when we shame or bully others, most often than not, we're projecting our own insecurities. Brittany learns this the hard way when she's drunk and depressed, and, even after losing weight, thinks that she's not good enough. That's when she berates Demetrius' overweight female guest at Demetrius' birthday party. The female guest comes with an attractive, slim husband, and Brittany launches a tirade even as her sister (Demetrius' wife, Cici - played by Kate Arrington) is giving a toast to Demetrius.
Needless to say, activewear and athleisure are featured heavily in this movie. There's a scene when she just starts running and she looks at the other runners who wear leggings in different colors and designs. One of the changes Brittany undergoes in the movie is her wardrobe. When she goes out on her first run, she wears a hoodie top with (most likely cotton or cotton-blend) joggers and a pair of Converse. During the marathon, she wears an athletic shirt and Capri leggings and running shoes. Cut to the ending, and she's out running with a long-sleeve athleisure top and running shorts.
The movie premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2019 before its wide release in late August of the same year, way before most folks start listing their New Year's Resolution, almost as if to say we don't have to wait till New Year's or next Monday to start something new and drastic.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is written and directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo. It's out now in theaters, and soon on Amazon Prime who had acquired the rights.
The film was inspired by the director's friend, Brittany O'Neill, whose photos appear before the end credits.
The New York City Marathon is the largest marathon in the world and is held annually. Runners are expected to run a distance of 26.2 miles.