This Audience Award winner at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival centers on a rudderless, nearly 30-year-old New Yorker (Jillian Bell) who, after a disappointing doctor’s appointment, decides to ditch her unhealthy habits and run the New York City Marathon. Turns out, shedding 40 pounds and getting fit are the easier legs of her journey, while fixing what’s inside—distrust of others and dislike of herself, primarily—takes time. Writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo based the titular character on his roommate, and I imagine this Brittany is a lovely, inspiring person. Movie Brittany, however, is frequently rude and dismissive, sometimes cruel, and even the knowledge that her attitude stems from her insecurity and other personal issues doesn’t make rooting for her any easier. Many of the side characters, including a slacker love interest (Utkarsh Ambudkar), also register as more irritating than funny or endearing. Brittany’s brother-in-law (Lil Rel Howery) and neighbor-turned-running buddy (Michaela Watkins) generate some warmth in their constructive interactions with the protagonist, but overall the film does not feel good to watch. Judging by the smattering of strained ha’s in my theater at laugh lines, it appears that viewers want to like these characters because the story suggests they should, and they feel they’re supposed to, yet they have to push themselves to get there. I too admire Colaizzo’s effort, but in the end found myself ruminating on why I was expected to cheer at the finish line.
By Leah Pickett