Kelly’s Thoughts: My co-reviewers focused mainly on the movie as it relates to running (well, for obvious reasons), but I thought it was a great movie about growing up, where running happened to play an important role.
The character of Brittany (Jillian Bell) seems pretty one-dimensional to start. She oversleeps and is chronically late for work, she jokes at inappropriate times and about serious matters, and she parties nearly every night. She has friends who has the same lifestyle, and it’s left her feeling lonely, unfulfilled, and left behind. Then she’s told she needs to lose weight to combat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. At first she resents this challenge, but one long look at where her life is really going makes her accept it and dive into changing her life.
The supporting cast are perfect – most running friends are made through running, and therefore have less in common than non-running friends. They come from different walks of life, are different ages and totally different stages in their lives. But they fully support Brittany in her journey – as they log miles they support her training, and as she tries to love herself they support her personal growth. She goes through some pretty major setbacks, too … some I could relate to personally!
Also, it’s a funny movie with a lot of great one-liners and situations that only runners will really get.
My favorite line, which I think sums up the entire movie and is a good mantra, was when her friend tells her, “If someone wants to support you …” and she finishes the thought with, “I should let them.”
Read about the real Brittany O’Neill in this article from runnersworld.com. Side note: O’Neill’s finish time in 2014 was 3:55:57.
Nikki’s Thoughts: As soon as I heard about the new movie Brittany Runs a Marathon, I wanted to see it, for fairly obvious reasons. I can relate. I am a runner. I am a woman. And I am someone who went from drinking in bars and being depressed and overweight to being a runner. These themes are all very present in this movie and they all hit pretty close to home.
There were a few moments that didn’t totally ring true for me. When Brittany starts running, the mileage doesn’t seem to come all that hard for her. When she goes on her first group run, it appears she’s barely run at all previously and she finishes a 2-miler without too much trouble. For this scene, I would have loved to have seen the experience that many new runners face, which is that they are slower than the group and feel excluded or out of place. This is not a pleasant experience, but it is a real one that I hear over and over from new runners.
However, I don’t want to pick apart this movie. Overall, it hits the mark. In one particular scene, where she puts on a running outfit (of mostly the wrong stuff, which many of us can relate to from when we were newbies) and heads for the door, she pauses. This hesitation is very real. This is the moment. The moment where we are crossing over into a new life. Many of us have been here, where we feel we will fail, where we worry we won’t be able to go the distance. It’s a scary jump. It’s a make it or break it moment. She tells herself “just one block,” and we root for her. Because that’s how it always starts. Of course, (obvious spoiler alert #2) she ends up doing it. And ends up succeeding. And she gets to the point where she can finally say she’s a runner.
Brittany’s friends don’t understand her journey and often abuse her insecurities. She tries so hard to rock both worlds in an effort to be a good friend but also to improve herself. In the end, she finds out what really matters and who will be there to support her. It’s a beautiful journey. When you see this, you’ll cheer for Brittany and it will inspire you to sign up for that next big challenge.
Mindy’s Thoughts: From the time I saw the trailer for Brittany Runs a Marathon, I knew I had to see it, too. I am currently in the final 3 weeks of my own marathon training, and to be completely honest, needed a little inspiration to push me through the final stretch. This movie definitely hit the mark. It was both funny and inspirational. It’s about time there was a movie, that is geared on this subject.
Like anyone who starts training, the first run is always the hardest. Getting out there is really one of the toughest things to do, but once you do, there is no stopping you. I really loved the cinematography showing how Brittany’s first run (only one block), seemed to stretch longer and longer. The only thing I wish this movie had more of, is showing more of the struggles with marathon training. It really is a difficult distance and it seemed like the writers could have thrown a few more obstacles her way.
I also agree with Nikki’s thoughts on Brittany’s final marathon time. I left thinking, there is no way this woman could have ran a whole marathon in that time. I keep thinking about my own experiences with running marathons and cannot fathom the outcome of someone who has struggled with weight, had some issues training, to run at that time. But then again, miracles do happen.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. I laughed in multiple scenes and left the movie feeling ready to tackle this next marathon!
Abby’s Thoughts: A movie about running that doesn’t feature elite athletes, but the average Jill?! How refreshing! This movie is about the real, average runner and emphasizes what many of us like about the sport; it’s accessible to anyone with the willpower to do it. I think one of my very favorite parts was when Brittany’s less-than supportive friend made the comment: You are running a 5K? I mean, do really you think you are going to be the fastest? Why do it if you aren’t going to win?? To which a very miffed Brittany replied: That’s not the point, of course I’m not going to win, only one person is and there are hundreds of people signed up. They all know they aren’t going to win. That’s not the point. The point is to finish! I think those of us with non-running friends who just don’t get it, have expressed this similar sentiment in one way or another before. While there were some other gasp-out-loud moments as a result of just plain awful stuff said by the non-supportive people in her life, there were a lot of laughs and relate able moments that made the movie have all the “feels.”
While the movie’s driving plot is about Brittany training to run her first marathon, it’s as much about setting a goal and completing the steps to accomplish it. Brittany evolves not only as a runner, but as a human being. She develops discipline, accountability and self-esteem. The friendships she makes while training also cement themselves into lasting relationships that will be a part of her the rest of her life—something all of us runners are lucky to have as a big bonus that transcends our passion of the sport.