Run Away

‘Brittany Runs A Marathon’ is An Unfunny, Fat-Shaming Disaster

Well. Brittany Runs a Marathon is a movie that someone made. I was expecting to be annoyed by this film because they made Jillian Bell wear a prosthetic double chin. Whenever anyone wears a fat suit in a movie, I get a real rude ‘tude about it, because no one’s adding a double chin to an actor for a flattering portrayal. Even with the additions, I need to point out that this character is barely fat.

Brittany is a mess, according to this movie. She goes out! She’s late for work! Meanwhile, she tries to con a doctor into giving her a prescription for Adderall! And she gives a blowjob to a man who offered her napkins as knee pads like that’s a legitimate prelude to fellatio. I think we’re supposed to find her charming, but what the script fails to realize is that Brittany is actually kind of an asshole.


BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON (1/5 stars)
Directed by: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Written by: Paul Downs Colaizzo
Starring: Jillian Bell, Jennifer Dundas, Patch Darragh
Running time: 103 min


She’s meant to be hilarious, other characters tell us with their reactions and laughing. But her humor consists of slipping into British accents on a regular basis and occasional bursts of songs. She gets wasted and offers to buy drinks for an entire bar. What a riot! Someone get this girl to an open mic.

Note: Brittany is not actually fat.

When your lead is a gifted comic actress like Jillian Bell, playing a character who is meant to be funny, the theater should not be dead silent whenever a “joke” is told. At one point, “jokes” take the form of Brittany taking back-to-back pretend phone calls using a flyer as a phone, all while her boss is trying to talk to her about how inconsiderate it is to be late for work and force others to pick up her slack. Because you know, fat people are lazy.

Everyone Else In The Movie Is Also Terrible

I needed to pause while writing this review because I got so irritable. Now that I’m back, I can tell you that Brittany also has shitty friends. Her best friend Gretchen is an Instagram influencer-wannabe with zero redeeming qualities except an enviable ability to jump on counters. This is her only friend aside from her sister and brother-in-law. Li’l Rel Howery is again the best part of a movie, having stolen the show in Get Out. Here, the director mostly uses him over Skype, which makes me wonder if even he didn’t want to make time for this movie, despite being in it.

Brittany starts to get it together, which at first seems to be the point of the movie. She gets a new job as a dog-walker / housesitter, and eventually moves in full-time into the stunning town home of the wealthy owners. She cozies up to and starts sleeping with Jern, the nighttime house sitter. Of course, this is after she loses about 30 lbs. and is thrilled when he describes her body as “average” while helping her sign up for OKCupid.

She makes friends with two other runners, Seth and Catherine, who try to treat her like normal people treat their friends. She starts to realize what actual friendship is like. But the characters are shallow, and exist mainly so Brittany can push them away.

Belittling The Actual Fat Woman

The worst thing about the movie, other than most scenes, is the pandering character of Jasmine. Jasmine is the only character who is an actual fat woman. She gets approximately three minutes of screen time.

Brittany visits home when she injures herself, and has to drop out of the marathon. She’s heartbroken.

This leads her to binge drink red wine and viciously insult Jasmine. Jasmine has a cute husband, and Brittany wonders how they met. Did they meet a long time ago when Jasmine was thin? How do people react to them? Brittany is on a roll and she doesn’t stop until she belittles Jasmine’s fat rolls. It’s vile.

Then, to show personal growth, she sends Jasmine the cheapest flowers she could find on 1-800-Flowers, and a card that reads “Jasmine–I’m sorry for how I acted. The truth is, I want what you have.” No shit, Brittany. We all know that.

In Jasmine’s other moment of screen time, she emails Brittany and we see her speaking the words. She knows Brittany’s pain. It’s aggressively cringey. I want to see Jasmine and her husband at home, rather than any scene in this film.

Brittany, like every good rom com lead, wants to work in advertising. She brings back the jingle, which, like most of her “humor,” no one asked for.

I was glad that the film addressed some issues that are real for fat people. When you lose weight, people start treating you better and it pisses you off. People hold doors for you. People notice you, when before they looked past you. I’m glad the doctor briefly mentioned that plenty of obese people are healthy. But it’s still a makeover movie, and the central part of that is losing weight.

In conclusion, this movie showed me that Brittany’s got to run a few more marathons to achieve the personal growth necessary to make this movie good. The one star is for Jasmine.

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Kristin Clifford

Kristin Clifford is a comedy writer in Los Angeles. She started in Chicago, studying improv and performing stand-up, but has traded the stage for the page. Recent projects include writing for season 2 of Cathy in Real Life.

3 thoughts on “Run Away

  • August 23, 2019 at 2:15 pm
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    Thank you for the honest review and for breaking down the facade that Hollywood (and everyone else for that matter) has created about people of normal, regular, human size. I watched the previews and thought this looked like another makeover movie cloaked in feminist empowerment. Looks like I was right.

    Reply
  • February 16, 2020 at 12:49 am
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    i havent watched movie.Any points for her taking responsibility and doing something for her health by running and giving up the drinking and late nights, instead of taking addreall? Thanks

    Reply
  • July 25, 2020 at 7:57 am
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    This film, re-written.
    Start with someone who is overweight or even obese, but demonstrate them accurately, as neither more greedy nor more lazy than anyone else. Show them exercising and limiting their calories and still not losing weight. Show how badly everyone around them treats them because of their appearance, based on preconceived ideas about greed and laziness. Have the audience comiserate with the main character knowing this is not the case. Have that audience re-examine their own attitudes to people in their lives they have made the same prejudgements of, or as larger people feel validated by a positive demonstration of their own hard life experience being played out.

    Show that fat but fit main character turning to unhealthy dieting and damaging exercise habits to try to lose weight, have the audience root for them to stop abusing themselves through anorexia, as opposed to the support of these unhealthy measures generally shown by the general population as the abuse is seen as a justified punishment for the greed and laziness. Have that main character have an epiphany and stop their awful emotional and anorexic abuse of themselves, gain back what they lost despite now having a healthy level of exercise and not falling into a slovenly mess.

    Show them becoming healthier in the process and finally gain the self confidence they’d been trying to gain by losing weight. And NOT by realising “I’m just a jolly fat girl, being greedy and lazy makes me happy so accept it, I am what I am” which may be some people’s self audit but is also playing right into fat shaming and the stereotypes of big people as being fat and lazy and perpetuating the conclusions by which people justify their abuse of larger people.

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