Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)

I love Jillian Bell. She elevates everything she is in, from Workaholics to 22 Jump Street. So I was excited to see her star in a film, despite it seeming like pure formula from its trailer. The good news is it that it’s anything but.

Paul Downs Colaizzo was born in Pittsburgh, but raised in Georgia and got his BFA at NYU. His plays Really Really and Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill got his name out there, plus he sold a pilot called LFE to CBS and was part of their MacGyver reboot.

This movie is based on the real story of his roommate, Brittany O’Neill. You can check out her story  in Runner’s World.

Brittany Forgler is 28, can’t keep a man, works a job that is at best dead-end and drinks, parties and abuses Adderall to get by. She can’t even afford a gym so that she can get healthy, like her doctor demands. So she just starts walking, which her influencer roommate Gretchen (YouTuber Alice J) thinks is all a joke.

Soon, she bonds with other runners like Seth and Catherine. And her dog sitting job introduces her to a man who is either going to be her enemy or lifemate, Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar, who originated the Aaron Burr role in Hamilton in the script readings).

My favorite character in this is Lil Rel Howery as Demetrius, Brittany’s de facto father figure, as the rest of her family is such a mess.

This is a movie with no easy answers for its characters. They make mistakes. They say the wrong thing. They screw up on a scale that is monumental. But you still feel love in your heart for them. You want them to do better. In short, it feels real.

Jillian Bell lost 40 pounds during the filming of the movie, just like the character she is playing. As someone who has worked hard to lose 60 pounds this year, I celebrate not only the way the movie treats the pain of losing weight, but that sometimes, even when you lose the pounds, you still have mental work left to do.

Amazingly, this is the first non-documentary to ever be shot during the New York Marathon. Fellow runners and race watchers thought that Bell was really injured during the climax and cheered her on, not knowing that this was all a movie shoot.

You can learn more at the official site and official Facebook page. And you can watch Brittany Runs a Marathon on Amazon Prime.

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