August 26, 2019

SCREEN | Jillian Bell Outpaces 'Brittany Runs A Marathon'

Jillian Bell Utkarsh Ambudkar Paul Downs Colaizzo | Brittany Runs A Marathon

Breakout comedian Jillian Bell finally gets her own starring vehicle in the fairly straightforward, inspirational indie comedy, Brittany Runs A Marathon. Written and directed by playwright turned first-time filmmaker Paul Downs Colaizzo, the small-scale film keeps it simple and largely avoids the pitfalls of any discourse about body image, fat-shaming, or health debates to focus on the eponymous character's arrested development and personal quest for self-improvement

Bell's Brittany is a typical New York slacker who randomly and haphazardly throws herself into running as both a distraction and vessel to turn her life around. After an unpleasant visit to the doctor where she foolhardily tries to score drugs, she sets unrealistic goals to lose fifty pounds and eventually run the New York City Marathon. It's likely she purposely aimed too high to give herself an out to relapse into her old ways of hard-partying, but a surprising determination leads to a series of amusing gags of inspiration and dedication.

Colaizzo surrounds Bell with a predictably able set of comedians to encourage Brittany's mission. As friends and running buddies, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Lil Rel Howery show up to give the title character some backstory, depth, and traits beyond her loser-ish demeanour. Bell really shows her range, quickly shedding the usual disgusting but funny chubby sidekick stereotype, to reveal a sad but everywoman type we all possess and flesh out her universal story.

Brittany Runs A Marathon is not much more than a star vehicle for Bell's brand of comedic and dramatic and acting and that's mostly why it works as well as it does. Using running, losing weight, getting healthier, growing up, and overall self-improvement as entry points for telling its story, the heartfelt indie comedy manages to make itself an endearing time.

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