Dateworthy: “Brittany Runs a Marathon”
Is “Brittany Runs a Marathon” worth a date night? YES!
This film is the true-life story of a 28 year old woman who used running as a means of turning her physically and emotionally unhealthy life around in both funny and serious ways. It’s an inspiring “Rocky” for our times while being both hilarious and touching as well. It opens in just a couple cities this weekend, but hits nationwide September 13.
So mark your calendars for a great date movie!
Brittany O’Neill was one of millions of millennials who was flailing through life amid an uncertain job market, divorced parents and a lack of purpose for their lives. At 28, she drank way too much way too often. She allowed herself to be used by random guys. To top it off, she worked a job that didn’t offer enough money to build a future.
Remarkably, she turned it all around by first finding the will power to run around the block in her rundown New York City neighborhood. How she took those terrifying tentative first steps and wound up running in the New York City Marathon forms the heart of the terrific new movie and Sundance Film Fest sensation “Brittany Runs a Marathon.”
This movie has inspirational power few films ever achieve
The movie opens with Brittany at a stunning low point.
Brittany is played by rising comedy actress Jillian Bell. Jillian lost 40 pounds herself in taking on the transformative role.
She works a low-paying, low-responsibility job at a live theater. Her snobby roommate drags her to nightclubs every night. However, she constantly derides her as being a fat, lonely loser. She’s promiscuous, has no self-esteem, and drinks way too much.
Then, Brittany gets a medical checkup due to feeling bloated and miserable. Her doctor tells her she has fatty deposits on her liver and is at risk of an early death if she doesn’t stop drinking and lose weight. She is scared straight by this diagnosis and wants to change. However, she doesn’t even know how to begin until she meets a young gay married man in a runners’ club.
His friendliness inspires her to reach out for help which he readily gives. Brittany is also befriended by a concerned neighbor named Shannon (Jennifer Dundas), who overcame heroin addiction in her 20s and wants to inspire her.
“Brittany Runs a Marathon” showcases the beauty of working together
At first, Brittany’s efforts seem comically futile. She can barely make it around a city block while running. But as she’s joined by her two friends, she starts running further. She also stops drinking and sleeping around. Along with her friends, she sets a goal of running the New York City Marathon.
Another big change happens when she lands a house-sitting job at night. Then she discovers a male slacker is doing the day shift and has actually moved into the house. At first they clash, but then they become good friends and eventually lovers as Brittany learns to trust him and open up about her life.
Meanwhile, her old roommate sees her and is shocked by her improvements. Brittany just keeps moving forward. But then she experiences a serious injury just weeks before the marathon. Her plans are thrown for a loop and she has to decide if she can maintain the strength to continue improving herself or if she will backslide into self-destruction.
A positive and uplifting tale of everyday triumphs
This film is based on a true story, in which the real-life Brittany lost more than 50 pounds. The movie’s writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo wisely ties together the many issues that poor self-worth affects.
Colaizzo and Bell team up to make the movie equally funny and uplifting, while also making its sadder moments deeply affecting. The supporting cast are also vibrant additions to the movie.
“Brittany” does have foul language used casually throughout. However, it keeps much of its other R-rated factors implied and off screen. The gay married man character’s relationship is also handled matter of factly and with discretion, with no speechifying or agenda forced upon viewers.
There are so many positive life lessons here that the good far outweighs the bad on these fronts.
The movie shows that millennials raised in broken homes and without much moral guidance can become tragic messes in adulthood. Yet it also shows that anyone can strive to overcome their circumstances and be better.
Carl Kozlowski is a Catholic comedian, film reviewer, and journalist who is also the founder and co-owner of the podcast station www.radiotitans.com in Los Angeles. He reviews movies for the Catholic News Agency as well as the Christian site Movieguide.org, but has also worked with secular outlets including the Pasadena Weekly, Chicago Tribune and Esquire. He has also produced and hosted comedy shows for the LA Catholic Archdiocese's charities and performed at some of the nation's top clubs and with top comics including Dane Cook and Dave Chappelle. He strives to find the way to work with both Christian and secular audiences in all his career paths.