I’ve been picking my movies by using different “best of 2019” lists and Brittany Runs a Marathon was a staple on these lists. I’ve been putting it off because it didn’t seem very interesting from the poster but I knew it was a comedy and needed to laugh. When Amazon started promoting the movie like crazy I finally gave it a shot to see what the hype was about.
I liked the movie at first. It had a somewhat formulaic approach but it was funny and the main character, played by Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street), was someone I could root for. Then that changed. After initially going the way I expected, the movie took a bad turn as the character became more and more unlikeable. By the end I was having trouble understanding why any of her friends still bothered with her after how she treated them.
Let’s get into it.
Brittany Runs a Marathon starts out strong with great humor and an inspiring story. Then, when things appear to be looking up for Brittany she devolves and hurts the people around her. This killed the good vibes and simply made me dislike her and, in turn, the movie itself.
Brittany Runs a Marathon is exactly what it sounds like and looks like from the poster. A millenial woman who is slightly overweight is challenged to change her lifestyle to become healthier. She sets out on a weight loss journey, then sets the goal of running in the NYC marathon.
Early in the movie we see how she’s living and how unhealthy it is. We see her judge her neighbor Catherine, played by Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust), for simply taking care of herself and asking Brittany not to leave her things in the apartment hallway. We also see how her friends treat her. She’s the funny fat one (she’s told this to her face)and her friends don’t really seem to care about her. She has accepted this role though it doesn’t make her feel good. It’s clear that this is a huge part of her not taking care of herself. It’s sad and you want her to win.
Once she begins her weight loss journey she has the initial anxiety of someone starting out. She feels like everyone is watching her when she steps outside to run, she feels like the next block is getting further away as she runs toward it, and she weighs herself obsessively.
Early on, she links up with a running group after actually having a conversation with Catherine and picks up another friend in Seth (Micah Stock, Bonding).
They work together to get into better shape and train for the marathon. All is well. She’s losing weight, she’s working toward a relationship with Utkarsh Ambudkar’s (Pitch Perfect) character and everything is fine. She’s even shed a toxic friend in dramatic fashion. Then suffers a setback right before the marathon, and while this adds a wrinkle, it didn’t have to derail all of her progress. But it did.
Brittany may have gotten herself into better shape physically, but she has not worked on herself emotionally. Not being able to run in the marathon destroys Brittany’s spirits and she can’t even be happy for her friends when they get to run. She basically shuns them, disses the guy who has grown to have feelings for her, and then makes a scene humiliating a friend of her sister’s.
She gets back on her grind as soon as she’s able to, determined to run the marathon the following year. We jump forward a year and she’s doing it. She’s running in the marathon and for no reason at all the people she was an ass to show up for her. They didn’t make her earn their love back, they simply offered it to her. I feel like they made this too easy and it ruined my enjoyment of the movie.
I understand that the movie didn’t want to be cookie cutter and I was fine with that. However Brittany was not transformed as a person by the end of the movie and I personally would have wanted to keep her at a distance had I been any of the friends she treated poorly.
You can say that she was emotionally damaged but who gets to decide that her damage is more important than mine? Definitely not her, and that should have been acknowledged. Had there been a stronger period of her having to win her friends back I might have been ok with it but I didn’t get that. Everything was about her and, quite frankly, she didn’t deserve any of it.