Hello Everyone! Today I will be giving my spoiler review of Brittany Runs a Marathon. Unlike my usual format, I will not be doing the good, the bad, and the fun facts. As I do on rare occasions for films I absolutely love- I’ll be dedicating my review to ranting about all the things I adored.
So let’s get to it!
The Funny Friend: So, obviously, this movie features a girl named Brittany (Jillian Bell) who decides to run a marathon. Ya’ll- it is so much more than that. Throughout the character’s journey to get to that goal the audience encounters a lot of commentary about real s***.
One of the things that hit close to home was the element of “the funny friend.” I can relate to this on a personal level. When uncomfortable, or when real circumstances present themselves throughout the movie, Brittany turns to humor as a safety mechanism; even when sex is nigh!
There is a scene when Brittany is out with her friends and they go around talking about what each person is up to. When they get to Brittany they just say how she is “the funniest person they know.” This stung.
I have always been the funny person. That’s been me since I was a kid. There’s nothing wrong with being funny, and Brittany in this film is often hysterical! Laughter is a great energy! However, context…Humor is clearly used as a defense mechanism by the character many times. If those around her only see her as the “funny friend,” then isn’t she often just trying to protect herself? To each their own what they take away from it, but it had me immediately reflecting on my behaviors; if all I am is the “funny friend” then if I don’t bring the laughs- what is my value?
I don’t have an answer! I’m now internally on a quest thanks to this film. Too real for a review, I know! Bare with me!
One Step First: From here, and after thinking on the advice of her doctor, the character begins to make scary choices. No, I don’t mean the sexy time in the bathroom. Yes, I mean hesitating at the door to go outside and try to run- no, more simply- TRY; something that can be horrifying when the broken record in your head is stuck on a really mean message.
Brittany commits to running one block, and I HOPE audiences see that moment and look deeper than just the idea of exercise. Depression is legitimate. Being trapped in your head is real. A wise man once told me, just as Brittany decided to do here by listening to her neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins), it’s about making small achievable goals.
Maybe today you just add some vegetables to the plate. Maybe tomorrow you do ten pushups. Then maybe the next day you apply to ten jobs…Slowly you start feeding more positive things into your being, and with each step the strides get wider and the goals get bigger. I CHOKED up seeing Brittany finally arrive at the marathon with those glimpses back to her frozen at her door.
Let’s put a pin in that! There’s other ideas worth commenting on before we get to the perfect ending.
Social Media Bull: We should all be grateful for Gretchen (Alice Lee), Brittany’s roommate in this film. She’s not likable, but I appreciated her because she was a mirror. We’ve all done it. Don’t lie. Insecurity is a powerful thing and we do some insidious and mean stuff when we’re sitting in it. Hell, Brittany does it herself at Demetrius’ birthday! (Lil Rel Howery- so handsome. Molly from Insecure, what are you doing?! Go back to him!)
Gretchen represents a giant problem; she is a person who does not feel secure in her relationship, does not feel secure about herself (“I can’t do cardio because I get skinny too fast”-yeah, bulls***), and like MANY wants to be the protagonist of reality because she too does not have a true sense of value. She needs the followers, the likes, and the ability to humble brag to obtain the instant gratification. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us (I’m including myself, guys!) are the Gretchen and not the Brittany.
Real growth, I have always suspected, comes from the ugly. Superficial validations are a quick substitute and distraction from the real work we see in our peripheral that needs to be done.
Yes, Gretchen is example X for us to look at our lives to see who is trying to make us the supporting character in their nonsense, but I appreciate her presence as a juxtaposition to Brittany’s courage to do the actual work.
Own Your Stuff: Another constant throughout the movie was the importance of owning yourself- both in constructive and destructive aspects. We see the character do the work, go through the motions, put in the time, and discover a worth for herself she didn’t know before. She found an ability to step up for herself and she put the breaks on people that were crossing a line.
At the same time, towards the end of the movie, the story dives deeper and we see a piece she still had not yet owned- understanding she was enough- that she always was and always would be enough.
It’s a hard moment to swallow when she returns to her sister’s house and, after several cups of wine, goes after one of the guests for her weight. Well, more clearly, she goes after her because there is “no way” a man could want someone who looks like her.
The piece that the character had been missing was understanding that happiness is a practice and a choice. It’s not about the followers, it’s not about the likes, it’s not about the job title, it’s not about the company you work for, who you’re friends are, the house, and yes even the body. It’s a choice to internalize and practice the understanding that we are enough and are worthy of happiness simply because we were born.
She rejects Catherine’s friendship, she doesn’t accept her friends trying to help her with the marathon funds, she pushes Jern ( Utkarsh Ambudkar) away, and yes, goes after someone who was innocently just trying to have a nice afternoon at a birthday lunch.
We confuse “happy” with “joy.” Joy can never be a constant. We can’t always be in a constant state of euphoria. There are dips! But I believe happiness can exist even in the lows. How so? It was in the movie! The character just didn’t see it… Her family gave her a place to stay and took her in with no judgement, her friends still reached out to her even if she blew up on them, she DID get healthy even by the time she was injured, Jern was trying to do better because of how she inspired him, and most important- she was alive. Which meant she could stumble, fall, stay down, and have that cheesesteak (which looked so F****** good I salivated), and when she was ready she could get up again. Which brings me to my favorite part of the film…
Life is a character: Forgive this being all over the place but as I already mentioned- Brittany doesn’t run the marathon the year she intended to. Thank GOD. I wasn’t rooting against her! Calm down!
In film and television there is just too many stories of people evolving and getting it perfect on the first attempt. Abso-f******-lutely not. That aint the world ya’ll!
I appreciated so much that she got injured, things crumbled, and for a moment went back to where she started. What a powerful trial to witness to see just how much she had truly grown.
Back to Gretchen for a sec- remember when that little she-devil told Brittany not to throw out her fat clothes because she wasn’t going to keep the weight off? THAT was the moment that I needed something to happen for her not to run on the first attempt.
I needed Life to finish its cigarette in the sleazy parking garage, get back inside, and do it’s asshole job by throwing her one more curve ball to overcome. Why? Because Life is chucking us all curveballs every f****** day. We don’t need perfect instagram stories of how someone succeeded flawlessly. We need the ugly. We need the truth of failure and the beauty of getting up and trying again. Brittany Runs a Marathon gives us that and so much more.
Guys, if you haven’t seen the film, PLEASE do so. I give the film 4.5/5 Potatoes