Thursday, September 12, 2019

Brittany Runs a Marathon - Review

More and more, roles keeping finding people that have deserved a showcase for their talents long before they actually get to. For Jillian Bell, that role is Brittany Forgler, a late 20-something who desperately needs to get her life together, a relatable character if there ever was one. Of course if you know anything about Bell’s sensibilities, then you should also know that the film just so happens to be one of the funniest of the year as well.

A hard-partying woman (Jillian Bell) 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.

With a rather simplistic structure, Brittany Runs a Marathon almost rests entirely on the shoulders of its star, Jillian Bell. And the actress was ready and waiting at the plate to knock it out of the ballpark. Bell is delightful, a perfect blend of self-loathing and oddball humor. And despite having many unlikeable moments as a character throughout the film, her general character is impossible to not fall in love with on the whole, and Jillian Bell selling this journey is the key to all of it.

So many films in the past, when dealing with the subject of weight or health, have drifted into this “icky” territory, where jokes are made at the expense of the main character based solely on their appearance. Jokes are still made towards Brittany, but they call out her life choices and self-sabotage rather than delving into the easy target that lesser comedies would aim for. This in turn means that the message is driven home so hard, getting inches away from being heavy-handed, before it settles into a heartfelt moment.

The supporting pieces of the puzzle are relatively thin, and mostly there as means to Brittany reaching her goal. Even still, it’s hard to complain when Utkarsh Ambudkar gets some solid jokes and chemistry with Bell’s character, and the friendship between Michaela Watkins as Catherine, Micah Stock as Seth, and Brittany at least feels real, even if the side characters don’t. Regardless, the assembly of a good supporting cast for a great lead character is no easy task, and the film, thankfully, pulls it off.

Brittany Runs a Marathon may not break any records for original storytelling or giving audiences a new message they haven’t heard before, but at least it executes them well. Jillian Bell finally gets to carry a film, and she doesn’t disappoint. The film is all at once both earnest and borderline cheesy, the good kind of cheesy though. It’s a legitimately funny movie from start to finish, and maybe one of the best pure comedies of 2019.

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