Brittany Runs a Marathon.
This Amazon Studios film isn’t hitting all the big theaters nearby so I had to go a bit out of my way, even knowing it’ll end up on Prime sooner rather than later. I know Jillian Bell from Workaholics and I had high hopes that this might kickstart her feature film career. Let’s see if it did!
Brittany (Jillian Bell) has realized her life has become quite stagnant. Her comedy career isn’t going anywhere, she’s struggling to find potential romance, and her doctor confronts her with the fact that her lifestyle is unhealthy. She decides to make tiny goals, such as joining a neighborhood running club, where she becomes friends with a woman going through a divorce (Michaela Watkins) and a father trying to get in shape for his son’s sake (Micah Stock). On her road to eventually running a marathon, she also encounters Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar, Pitch Perfect), who she slowly starts to develop feelings for.
Other supporting talent includes Lil Rel Howery, Alice Lee, and Mikey Day (Saturday Night Live).
Jillian Bell was hilarious on Workaholics so it’s not surprising that she’s also hilarious here. Now, being funny is fine, but what Bell does here is actually much more difficult, because it’s through her jokes and wisecracks that you realize there’s a lot more going on, and that’s my biggest accolade for this film: It’s much more than you expect. You’ll laugh, but there’s a lot of surprise poignancy, about why someone would resort to humor or feel the way that she feels here. Our character Brittany isn’t always likable, in fact there’s a few scenes that you hate her, but it makes this journey incredibly complicated as you’re rooting for one part of Brittany to overcome over the other part. There’s more layers than you’d typically see, and Jillian Bell pulls it off perfectly.
Her supporting cast is also incredible, highlighted by a surprisingly good performance by Michaela Watkins. I know her best from a few seasons of Saturday Night Live, where she eventually was cut from the roster. In this film however, she knocks it out of the park. Likewise, Utkarsh Ambudkar provides a lot of the heart of this film, as the potential love interest for our lead.
If you’re looking for a comedy, this will absolutely do it. Most of this cast has comedic backgrounds, so that burden is carried by the entire cast, and that makes most of the film light-hearted, enjoyable, and authentic.
But like the best comedies, there’s a heart and a depth here. Our character Brittany is changing and her arc isn’t easy for her, so it’s a story of ups and downs. I cried, I laughed, it was the entire package of emotional responses. If we’re rating movies against their genre, this is likely one of the best comedies this year and we’ll see how it fares in my top 10 when December rolls around.
What doesn’t work?
I’d guess that there aren’t many folks who wouldn’t enjoy this film, except for maybe a sliver of the pie chart that don’t want to be confronted with realistic emotions and depth when trying to escape. It might tarnish the idea of a comedy for them. I, however, found it a perfect blend.
If you can find a theater playing Brittany Runs a Marathon, do it. Or wait until its inevitible Prime release. It has both an incredible amount of laughs, paired perfectly with a hefty amount of depth. Jillian Bell is outstanding, hopefully she’ll become a household name following this. If you trust my opinions on comedies, trust me now, and give this one a shot.