Brittany Runs a Marathon


You can’t move forward if you’re just standing still.

(2019) Dramedy (AmazonJillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howley, Micah Stock, Alice Lee, Jennifer Dundas, Patch Darragh, Erica Hernandez, Adam Sietz, Dan Bittner, Mikey Day, Kate Arrington, Beth Malone, Esteban Benito, Nadia Quinn, Juri Henley-Cohn, Peter Vack, Gene Gabriel, Sarah Bolt, Ian Unterman, Frances Eve. Directed by Paul Downs Collaizo

 

We have become more aware of our health than perhaps ever before. Here in America, despite the epidemic of obesity and its attendant health issues, we have become more aware of what we eat, how we exercise and generally what kind of shape we’re in.

Brittany (Bell) does none of those things. She works taking tickets at an off-Broadway theater and spends her nights drinking, hanging out with her friends and essentially being the fat best friend, to use a movie cliché. She goes to see a doctor (based on his Yelp rating) hoping to get him to prescribe Adderall; instead, he gives her a wake-up call. Her blood pressure and cholesterol are dangerously high as is her Body Mass Index. Her liver is beginning to get enough fatty deposits to be worrisome. In short, her doc (Darragh) advises her to lose 50 pounds pronto and make some serious life style changes.

That’s not necessarily an easy task for Brittany, who is used to making fun of people who exercise. Going to the gym is out of the question; she can’t afford even the most basic gym membership. However, as she notes to an obsequious gym owner, running outside is still free so Brittany digs out a ratty old sports bra and a pair of sneakers that have seen better days and prepares to make a quick run down the block.

She makes friends with fellow runners Catherine (Watkins) who is undergoing an ugly divorce and runs to take her mind off of things, and Seth (Stock), a married gay man who wants to get more fit so he can keep up with his kids. Brittany begins to take to running and gets it into her head that she wants to run the New York City Marathon. She convinces Seth and Catherine to train for it with her.

Brittany begins to transform. She loses weight and feels better physically. She stands up to her former roommate Gretchen (Lee), a bitchy judgmental Instagram influencer who constantly demeans Brittany and moves into the mansion of the couple whom she is dog-sitting for while they are away on an extended vacation. Already moved in is Jern (Ambudkar) – yes you read the name right – a feckless Millennial with all the ambition of a potato and not even of the couch variety. Jern is interested in a maybe romantic relationship but Brittany is not so sure.

As the pounds melt off, something odd happens – all the self-loathing and self-doubt that she has felt most of her life haven’t melted away with it. She resents anyone who wants to help her, distrusting their motivations. Brittany may not be Olympic material as a runner, but she is world-class when it comes to pushing people away. Soon enough she ends up living with her older sister (Arrington) in Philadelphia along with her brother-in-law (Howley) who is more of a father figure to her. Brittany’s dreams of running the New York marathon look to be in jeopardy.

This is most definitely a female empowerment film, although not the usual kind. For one thing, Brittany’s physical changes don’t necessarily coincide with attitude adjustments; she still has all the insecurities she’s always had and her sense of humor can be occasionally cruel. Brittany isn’t always a likable person, but thanks to Bell’s charismatic performance you still end up rooting for her to succeed. As kind of an odd aside, I found myself distracted by Bell’s resemblance to actress Cameron Diaz. I ended up chiding myself for being so shallow when it comes to reviewing a movie which is about inner beauty more than outer but it is noticeable enough that I had to mention it.

Writer-director Collaizo based the story on his experiences with his own best friend who underwent a similar transformation. I don’t know what the real Brittany thought of the movie – it isn’t always flattering to her – but she does end up kind of heroic and inspirational in spite of that. You can sense the affection Collaizo holds for the real Brittany throughout. He also wisely keeps the audience guessing as to where the movie is going to go up until the end, but sadly finishes with a pure Hollywood ending that is disappointing but not enough to affect the rating too much.

Brittany’s journey isn’t always an easy one and thus neither is it always for the audience either. Still, the movie has an abundance of charm going for it, a star performance by Bell and some nice skewering of our self-indulgent, self-centered society. There’s definitely some meat on the bones here, but with enough entertainment value to make for a pleasant meal.

REASONS TO SEE: Was never sure where this was going to lead us. You wind up rooting for Brittany despite her occasional bitchiness.
REASONS TO AVOID: The ending is a bit on the Hollywood side.
FAMILY VALUES: There is a fair amount of profanity, some drug content and some sexuality.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Bell lost 40 pounds during the course of filming the movie, just as her character does in the film.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/11/19: Rotten Tomatoes: 90% positive reviews: Metacritic: 74/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Run, Fatboy, Run
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT:
Chained For Life

New Releases for the Week of September 6, 2019


IT CHAPTER 2

(New Line) James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, Bill Skarsgǻrd, Andy Bean, James Ransome. Directed by Andy Muschetti

The Loser’s Club, having grown up believing that they defeated Pennywise the Clown in the first chapter, return to Derry only to discover that the evil that is Pennywise is still very much alive. Now they must face off with their worst nightmare in a final showdown.

See the trailer, video featurettes, clips and an interview here
For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material)

Brittany Runs a Marathon

(Amazon) Jillian Bell, Jennifer Dundas, Patch Darragh, Lil Rel Howley. A woman living in New York, tired of a lifestyle of partying, cheap sex and eating the wrong things, decides to take back control of her life and determines to get herself in shape to run the New York City Marathon.

See the trailer, clips and video featurettes here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: R (for language throughout, sexuality and some drug material)

Chhichhore

(Fox Star) Sushut Singh Raput, Shraddha Kapoor, Varun Sharma, Tahir Raj Bhasin. Seven friends from college, all swearing eternal friendship, slowly drift apart as they approach middle age in a sort of Indian version of The Big Chill.

See the trailer and clips here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: AMC West Oaks
Rating: NR

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

Boy Genius
Brother’s Day
Christmas Break-In
Edie
Enai Noki Paayum Thota
Itsy Bitsy
Just a Stranger
Satanic Panic
Strange But True

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE/KEY WEST:

Aquarela
Before You Know It
Boy Genius
Brother’s Day
The Chambermaid
Enai Noki Paayum Thota
End of the Century
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
Ittymaani: Made in China
K-12: A Film by Melanie Martinez

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/SARASOTA:

Brother’s Day
Dauntless: The Battle of Midway
Edie
Enai Noki Paayum Thota
Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles
Ittymaani: Made in China
Magamuni
Strange But True

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

Brother’s Day
Enai Noki Paayum Thota
Ittymaani: Made in China
Just a Stranger

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Brittany Runs a Marathon
The Chambermaid
It Chapter 2

Pick of the Litter – August 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

(Universal) Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby. The first spin off movie from the Fast and Furious franchise gives us Agent Luke Hobbs and former outlaw Deckard Shaw forced to work together to save the world (and Shaw’s sister) from a genetically enhanced madman who is intent on releasing a biological weapon that will decimate the world’s population – and that Shaw’s sister stole from him. August 2

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Love, Antosha

(mTuckman) Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine, Jodie Foster, Nicolas Cage. The heartbreaking and yet still inspiring story of the late actor Anton Yelchin whose death in a freak accident at age 27 robbed the world of a consummate artist whose best work was ahead of him. August 2

Ladyworld

(Cleopatra) Ariela Barer, Annalise Basso, Ryan Simpkins, Odessa Adlon, Eight girls are trapped in a house during a birthday party by a massive earthquake that may or may not have happened. As the never-ending party continues, the girls begin to face the music in that food and water is becoming short and a kind of Lord of the Flies mentality begins to kick in. The film is touted as a new look at feminine stereotypes by visionary director Amanda Kramer. August 2

Luce

(Neon) Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Tim Roth. A married couple couldn’t be prouder of their son, adopted from a war-torn African nation. He has risen above his past to become a model student, a fine athlete and someone much admired in the community. When a devoted teacher suddenly rings alarm bells after he writes a paper advocating violence, the parents are forced to reconsider their image of their son. August 2

Brian Banks

(Bleecker Street) Aldis Hodge, Greg Kinnear, Sherri Shepherd, Melanie Liburd. The incredible but true story of a 16-year-old high school football player, considered a can’t-miss prospect for the NFL, who is incarcerated for 11 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He struggles to prove his innocence and get a chance to get the life he should have had back. August 9

The Banana Splits Movie

(SyFy) Dani Kind, Finlay Wojtak-Hissong, Romeo Carere, Steve Lund. What better birthday present could there be for a young boy in the 1970s than tickets to a taping of the beloved children’s show, The Banana Splits? However, things take a much darker turn in this much-anticipated horror comedy. What hath Sid and Marty Kroft wrought? August 13

Buñuel in the Labyrinth of Turtles

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Mission Mangal

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The Amazing Jonathan Documentary

(Hulu) The Amazing Jonathan, Weird Al Yankovic, Anastasia Synn, Benjamin Berman. Popular comedian and magician The Amazing Jonathan found his life derailed when he was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition that gave him a year to live. First-time documentary filmmaker Berman initially was set to document the last year of his life – only to discover that reality and illusion were beginning to blur. August 16

Aquarela

(Sony Classics) Viktor Kossakovsky. A globe-hopping, mesmerizing documentary examines the effects of water on our world and the effects of climate change on all things aquatic. Using stunning visuals to immerse the viewer in a world of water, ice and steam, the movie will also be released in high frame-rate versions in selected cities. August 16

Brittany Runs a Marathon

(Amazon) Jillian Bell, Jennifer Dundas, Patch Darragh, Lil Rel Howley. A New Yorker, tired of being ignored and overweight, decides to take charge of her life in this life-affirming comedy. She decides that her goal is to run the New York City Marathon and while some scoff, she will not be deterred. August 23

Freaks

(Well Go USA) Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Lexy Kolker, Amanda Crew. An overprotective dad keeps his young daughter confined to the house. As she grows up, she begins to suspect her dad may be paranoid and delusional, and she is eager to solve the mystery of her mom who disappeared when she was very young. It turns out that her dad had reason to be overprotective. August 23

Official Secrets

(IFC) Kiera Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith, Matthew Goode. This is based on the true story of British whistleblower Katherine Gun, who was tried for violations of the Official Secrets Act for leaking information to the press about an illegal NSA operation that was designed to convince the UN Security Council to support the 2003 invasion of Iraq despite there being no real evidence to justify it. August 23

Vita & Virginia

(IFC) Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini, Rupert Penry-Jones. This is based on the actual love letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West; whose forbidden romance inspired the novel Orlando. August 30