Winning the Sundance Audience Award is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you will receive admiration from critics and audience members along with securing a nice buyout from an award-hungry studio. On the other hand, that same award-winning film will most likely be released towards the end of summer and be forgotten in favor of a higher-budget film. “Brittany Runs a Marathon” follows that formula to a T. The movie follows 28-year-old Brittany (Jillian Bell), a depressed millennial in New York City who is told to lose weight after a visit to the doctors. To accomplish this goal, Brittany decides to start running and eventually makes it to the New York City Marathon.
While the plot may sound like your typical self-improvement feel-good type of movie, writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo is able to make the character of Brittany a commentary on modern millennial culture that does not feel like it was written by an out-of-touch baby boomer. Everything from Brittany’s anxiety to her social life perfectly reflects the quirks of an overworked and image-conscious generation.
With that being said, the character dialogue needed some improvement. Many of the interactions between Brittany and her running friend Catherine (Michaela Watkins) felt clunky and jarring. While these interactions are supposed to highlight Brittany’s lack of outreach, they come off as are awkward and underwritten. There are also moments throughout the plot that were annoyingly predictable and were a bruise on an otherwise interesting film.
This is seen towards the second act when Brittany and her roommate get into an argument. Even before that scene started, I knew what was going to happen since there were moments leading up to the argument that made it abundantly obvious what was to transpire. Now that’s not to say that predictable plot points are inherently bad — almost every movie has them — but when a screenwriter does not even bother to update tired cliches, that is where I get annoyed.
On a lighter note, Jillian Bell is terrific as Brittany. She is not only quick-witted and charming as Brittany, but she also manages to stay likable even if her character is the opposite at points. The supporting cast of Michaela Watkins and Lil Rel Howery helps flesh out the film’s identity and gives performances that really pop out. The music, while generic at points, helps add to the mostly upbeat tone that the film is aspiring to be.
“Brittany Runs a Marathon” tries to be an upbeat dramedy about a woman overcoming her struggles while being a deconstruction of millennial culture. While I appreciate the effort that Colaizzo puts into making an upbeat, feel-good millennial dramedy, his lack of creative direction makes what could have been a sharp critique of modern society into a lighthearted crowd pleaser that I was sadly disappointed by. Maybe next year Sundance audience members will pick a winner that is a little more than an above-average dramedy.
Final Score: 3.5/5
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com