Directed by: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Written by: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Starring: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock
Goal-setting feels great when first making them, but actually executing them brings the real struggle. The road to reaching any goal contains more obstacles depending on how ambitious that end product may be and in this film, it happens to be completing the New York City Marathon.
Brittany Forgler (Jillian Bell) lives a life that includes a vast consumption of junk food, alcohol, and recreational drugs with no exercise to counter. She receives word from her physician that she must exercise to be healthy and after learning the exorbitant fees of gym memberships, she decides to give running a try. Making progress, she joins a running group and meets Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and Seth (Micah Stock) and they all set the goal of running and completing the big marathon.
Resolutions to lose weight are quite common around New Year’s, but for Brittany, it becomes an instant track because of the dangerous level her health reached. It sounds like a simple premise but the truly inspiring aspect of the story unveils that the real struggle Brittany needs to overcome to be happy, does not revolve around her weight, but the lifestyle she lived. Brittany participated in activities that didn’t make her happy and following each outing resulted in hating herself the next day. She works in a place that does not fulfill her professional goals and has a friend that does not support her positively. It all culminates into a lifestyle that would never reach success, but the pathway to happiness just happened to be running.
Brittany Runs a Marathon comes from a true story, and it’s so incredibly inspirational because it shows that someone can come from rock bottom to achieve such a tough goal. It happened through methodical planning and a good support system. The film shows how she works her way up from just being able to run a block, to complete a 5K, and then marathon training. Meeting these goals does not occur overnight as many of us would want and Brittany embodies this journey. Catherine and Seth provide that friendship based on support, which becomes vital to breaking any bad habits. If the people around Brittany don’t support her in the journey, it would make quitting seem like more of a viable option when the obstacles arrive. This story provides a great outline to goal-setting and it’s an educational moment I did not think it would provide.
It’s quite remarkable to hear the true story and also see Jillian Bell’s performance in the film because she truly lost weight portraying the character. She speaks much about the incredible impact this film has been for her own personal development and she embodies this effort. It served as a personal story as much as it was for Brittany. Bell shows the insecurity behind Brittany’s character because she wants to be like her roommate, Gretchen, but that’s not who she is nor should she pretend to be. She brings the comedic moments along with some of the deep dramatic moments.
The story hits a lot of familiar beats throughout the narrative that should be expected, but its inspirational quality makes up for it in certain regards. I know one particular critic, who got so enveloped by the message that she went on and completed the New York City Marathon herself. If a film has the ability to have that kind of impact on someone, then the narrative must be considered some type of success. The lessons Brittany learns in the film are valuable, which she and the rest of us can carry on when we set our goals.