Brittany Runs a Marathon - B+
Rated R, 103 minutes
Congratulations, you're now a marathoner. I'll never forget those words spoken to me as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon some years back, and it becomes emotional knowing the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. The touching, delightful and generally winning new comedy "Brittany Runs a Marathon" channels the blood, sweat, tears it takes to transform yourself into the best you.
A hard-partying woman named Brittany (the lovely Jillian Bell, in a star-making role) receives a startling wake-up call when a visit to the doctor reveals how unhealthy she is. Motivated to lose weight, she soon takes up running to help her prepare for her ultimate goal of competing in the New York City Marathon.
"Brittany Runs a Marathon" is written and directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo in his feature debut as a writer and director, and the inspiring, often hilarious story is based on a true one (yes, you see the real Brittany over the closing credits). The film isn't perfect: it relies on too many montages throughout, and its last act is a little too uneven, but is held together by the charming, talented Bell, who stole the comedies "22 Jump Street" and "Fist Fight," and whose honest, humorous turn here as Brittany should be given proper notice.
Colaizzo's script has too many characters and subplots to explore fully, but it does feature a strong, diverse supporting cast, including Utkarsh Ambudkar, Michaela Watkins, Micah Stock and "Get Out's" Lil Rel Howry, who gives one of the film's more memorable monologues as Brittany's brother-in-law and surrogate Dad, whose brutally honest advice helps shape her into being a better person.
While occasionally flawed, it is both literal and figurative motivation to finish the race strongly, and by the end, you'll be cheering Bell/Brittany across the finish line (and yes, have tissues handy too). The funny, heartfelt "Brittany Runs a Marathon," the marathon is a good metaphor that reminds that you don't have to always win, just finish.