Brittany Runs a Marathon

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Brittany Runs a Marathon
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Downs Colaizzo
Written byPaul Downs Colaizzo
Produced by
CinematographySeamus Tierney
Edited byCasey Brooks
Music byDuncan Thum
  • Material Pictures
  • Picture Films
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Release dates
  • January 28, 2019 (2019-01-28) (Sundance)
  • August 23, 2019 (2019-08-23) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$7.4 million[1][2]

Brittany Runs a Marathon is a 2019 American comedy film written and directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo, in his directorial debut.[3][4][5] It stars Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, and Micah Stock. The film follows an overweight woman in New York City who sets out to lose weight and train for the city's annual marathon.

It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019 and was released on August 23, 2019, by Amazon Studios.


Brittany Forgler is a 28-year-old living in New York City, employed as a greeter at an off-Broadway theater. She and her roommate Gretchen, a teacher's assistant dreaming of social media fame, are hard partiers who abuse drugs. Visiting a new doctor to score an Adderall prescription, Brittany receives the unwelcome diagnosis that she is overweight and must get healthier. She visits a gym only to find even the cheapest membership fee is out of her reach. Despite her fear, she sets small achievable goals, and tries running on her own outdoors. She is invited to run in a group with her neighbor Catherine, whom Brittany detests for her seemingly perfect life. After another night of partying by Gretchen, Brittany joins the group run and meets Seth, another struggling runner, learning they have equal goals. Brittany, Seth, and Catherine bond and, after a 5K run, set the ultimate goal: running in the New York City Marathon.

Brittany seeks a second job to afford a gym membership and becomes a pet sitter in a wealthy home. On her first day, she meets fellow pet sitter Jern, who is essentially living in the house against the rules. After a falling out with Gretchen over her changing lifestyle, Brittany moves into the house as well, bonding with Jern over their stalled lives. Seth and Catherine's predictions that Brittany will have sex and fall in love with Jern eventually come true.

Brittany gets within five pounds of her goal of losing 45 pounds. Unable to win a place in the marathon through a lottery, as Seth does, her only hope is to raise enough money for a charity. At Catherine's divorce party, Catherine offers to donate $5000 from her family trust and from Seth so Brittany can run in the marathon. Brittany turns down the offer, saying she does not want pity, and she leaves. She pushes to lose more weight by running even harder, until one of her shins becomes too painful to walk on. Five weeks from the marathon, her doctor informs her she has a stress fracture and will be unable to run for six to eight weeks, and the damage may be permanent.

Distraught, convinced she will gain back her weight, Brittany returns to the dog-sitting house and discusses the state of her life with Jern. The homeowners return and, disgusted Jern and Brittany have been living there, fire them. Brittany takes a bus to Philadelphia to visit her sister Cici and brother-in-law Demetrius, who was a father figure to Brittany after their parents' divorce and father's death. She ignores calls and texts from Catherine, Seth, and Jern, saddened to see Seth and Catherine with their marathon medals. That same day, she disrupts Demetrius's birthday party by making comments about an overweight female guest due to her own insecurities. After a stern but heartfelt talk with Demetrius, Brittany returns to New York and her former apartment, now alone.

Brittany continues exercising but stops tracking her weight loss. She applies for advertising jobs, for which she trained initially, and lands an entry-level position in Tribeca. She reconnects with her friends. Catherine reveals that running was a distraction from her nasty divorce, explaining that a year ago, she broke her wrist and was prescribed Oxycodone; her husband used it as evidence she had relapsed into drug use, and the court denied her visitation rights to their children. Brittany encourages Catherine to take small steps to win her children back. Brittany sets boundaries with Jern to just be friends while she works on herself.

One year later, Brittany runs in the marathon. At the 22-mile mark, she develops a cramp and has to pause. She rejects medical assistance, but accepts an assistant's offer to help her up. While considering quitting, she finds Seth, his husband and sons, and Catherine in the crowd cheering her on. She also encounters Jern, who says he loves her. She then keeps going and finishes the marathon.

An epilogue reveals Brittany and Jern living together as a couple, but she does not want to marry him despite his suggestion. She kisses him and leaves the house to go on a run.



The story of Brittany was inspired by Colaizzo's roommate, Brittany O'Neill, who appears in photos before the end credits.[6] The real life Brittany did not lose her parents at a young age, and had a more stable job than the character in the film. Colaizzo wanted to emphasize the inspirational side of the story and take what would usually be treated as a fat sidekick stock character and instead explore her feelings and perspective.[7] The real life Brittany had gotten into running but it was after Colaizzo came up with the film concept that she was inspired to try the take on the New York marathon herself.[6] Tobey Maguire's production company Material Pictures, picked up the film based on the verbal pitch.[6] Colaizzo had never had a screenplay turned into a film before and was worried that without his involvement the film might change into something more generic. He put together a presentation and storyboards of how the film should look and convinced producers to allow him to direct his first feature film.[4]

In November 2017, it was announced Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock and Alice Lee would star in the film, with Paul Downs Colaizzo directing from a screenplay he wrote. Tobey Maguire, Matthew Plouffe, Margot Hand, served as producers on the film, under their Material Pictures and Picture Films banners, respectively. Bell, Downs Colaizzo, and Richard Weinberg served as executive producers.[8] Jolian Blevins and Padraic Murphy served as co-producer and associate producer, respectively.[9]


The film was the first non-documentary film to be shot at the New York Marathon.[10] The production company went to the New York Road Runners, organizers of the marathon, to coordinate filming and to make sure that they did not get in the way of runners. Crew sizes were restricted and the film makers were not allowed to film on the Queensboro Bridge due to security concerns from the Department of Homeland Security. The film had no budget for visual effects to insert Bell into the race and depended on filming the marathon for real.[11]

Principal photography began in October 2017, in New York City.[12] The film was shot over 29 days.[13] The climactic scene was filmed during the 2017 New York City Marathon, with three filming crews working simultaneously to cover various stages of the race.[11]


It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019.[11][14][15] Shortly after, Amazon Studios acquired worldwide distribution rights to the film for $14 million.[16] It was released on August 23, 2019.[17]


Box office[edit]

The film made $175,969 from five theaters in its opening weekend, an average of $35,194 per venue.[18] The final worldwide box office gross was $7.4 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 88% based on 187 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Brittany Runs a Marathon is an earnest and hilarious dramedy that finally gives Jillian Bell a role worthy of her gifts."[19] On Metacritic, the film had a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[9]

Dennis Harvey of Variety magazine wrote, "This terrifically engaging debut feature by playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo is the best kind of "crowdpleaser": one that earns every emotional beat that might seem formulaic in four out of five similar enterprises."[3]


Award[a] Date of ceremony[b] Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Casting Society of America January 30, 2020 Studio or Independent – Comedy Brittany Runs a Marathon Nominated [20]
GLAAD Media Award July 30, 2020 Outstanding Film – Limited Release Nominated [21]
Hollywood Critics Association January 9, 2020 Best First Feature Nominated [22]
São Paulo International Film Festival October 30, 2019 Best Film Nominated
Satellite Awards March 1, 2020 Best Television Film Nominated [23]
Sundance Film Festival January 24 - February 3, 2019 The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic Won [24]
Grand Jury Prize Nominated


  1. ^ Awards, festivals and organizations are in Alphabetical order.
  2. ^ Date is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


  1. ^ a b "Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  2. ^ "Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Harvey, Dennis (January 30, 2019). "Sundance Film Review: 'Brittany Runs a Marathon'". Variety.
  4. ^ a b Lang, Brent (August 14, 2019). "Why 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Deserves to Be This Summer's Indie Breakout". Variety. he had never had a screenplay produced as a feature film, let alone directed a movie.
  5. ^ Wally, Maxine (August 23, 2019). "'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Tells the Story of Us". WWD. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Thorp, Charles (August 21, 2019). "The Real Runner Behind 'Brittany Runs a Marathon'". Runner's World. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  7. ^ Holmes, Linda (August 22, 2019). "A Fun But Familiar Story Of Making Yourself Over In 'Brittany Runs A Marathon'".
  8. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (November 22, 2017). "Jillian Bell To Star In 'Brittany Runs A Marathon'; Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar & Lil Rel Howery Also Cast". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Brittany Runs a Marathon". Metacritic. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  10. ^ Neophytou, Nadia (June 6, 2019). "Will 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Become Your Next Favorite Running Movie?". Runner's World.
  11. ^ a b c Miller, Jen A. (September 1, 2019). "How Brittany Ran Her 'Marathon' With 50,000 Extras". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Brittany Runs a Marathon". Production List. October 16, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  13. ^ Kaufman, Amy (August 23, 2019). "What 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' taught Jillian Bell about body image". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 28, 2018). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2019 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  15. ^ "Brittany Runs a Marathon". Sundance Film Festival. Archived from the original on April 20, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  16. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 30, 2019). "Sundance: Amazon Buys 'Brittany Runs A Marathon' for $14 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  17. ^ Vlessing, Etan (April 24, 2019). "Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Gets Summer Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  18. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (August 25, 2019). "'Angel Has Fallen' Still Ascending Close To 'London' With $20M; Tarantino's 'Hollywood' Beating 'Basterds' – Saturday AM B.O." Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2019-08-22. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  19. ^ "Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  20. ^ "Artios Awards: 'Hustlers,' 'Knives Out,' 'Rocketman' Among Casting Society Film Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. January 1, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  21. ^ "GLAAD Media Awards: 'Booksmart,' 'Bombshell,' 'Rocketman' Among Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. January 8, 2020. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  22. ^ "The 3rd Annual Hollywood Critics Association Awards Nominations". Hollywood Critics Association. November 25, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  23. ^ "Nominees for the 24th Annual Satellite Awards, celebrating achievements in Film, Television". December 3, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  24. ^ "Sundance: 'Clemency' Wins Dramatic Grand Jury Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. February 2, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.
  25. ^ "2019 Sundance Film Festival Awards Announced". Sundance Film Festival. February 3, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2020.

External links[edit]