Showcasing a breakout turn from Jillian Bell (Eastbound & Down, 22 Jump Street), this Sundance award-winner from playwright-turned-director Paul Downs Colaizzo ploughs a familiar furrow with honesty, hilarity and heart, even if there’s little original in having an aimless protagonist find fulfilment through the pursuit of a seemingly unattainable goal.
Yet Brittany’s spiky enough to dispel the feeling we’ve been here before – not least by shining a spotlight on the kind of ‘plus-sized sidekick’ character more usually to be found on the fringes of mainstream Hollywood product.
When we first meet Brittany (Bell), she’s an archetypal hot mess: a hard- drinking, wise-cracking party animal whose dead-end job tearing tickets off-Broadway exemplifies a life that’s going nowhere fast. When her doctor orders her to drop 50lbs or else, the only remedy within her budget is to jog around the block – a humiliation that nonetheless inspires her to set her sights on taking part in the New York marathon. Countless blisters stand between her and that crazy challenge. Yet the biggest of them all is her penchant for self-sabotage – a fatal flaw that could not only stop her getting to the starting line but might also torpedo her tentative romance with hipster housesitter Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar).
Inspired by a friend who made her own journey from couch potato to long-distance runner, Colaizzo’s film surrounds its hero with an amusing selection of characters that range from a vacuous Instagram wannabe (Alice Lee) to new bestie Seth (Micah Stock). In the end, though, it’s Bell who makes Brittany a ringing success.