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'Brittany Runs a Marathon' crosses the finish line, with a few bumps along the way

Jillian Bell stars as the titular character in this comedy-drama about a young woman living in New York City who's just trying to get by.

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With all the things life can throw at a person, running several miles might have been the easiest thing the main character does in "Brittany Runs a Marathon."

Jillian Bell stars as the titular character in this comedy-drama about a young woman living in New York City who's just trying to get by. Both in terms of her health and her career, though, she seems to be stuck in a rut and unable to get motivated. However, after a check-up with a doctor, Brittany decides to explore turning her life around.

Immediately, she shoots down the idea of going to the gym considering its costs, and decides to take the free option by jogging instead. As she gets used to running, she sets her sights on a major goal, completing the New York City Marathon. Along the way, relationships and friendships evolve and change, as does her outlook on life.

"Marathon" is kind of a roller coaster of a movie in terms of quality, with a few ups and downs along the way. Where the movie hits its stride is Brittany's growth as a character over the course of the story.

It's a compelling personal journey of self improvement and outside of running the New York City Marathon, it's a relatable slice of life. Following Brittany as she becomes a better runner and re-connects with her confidence she once had is an enjoyable experience.

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However, the narrative structure does take a few hits because of some subplots. There are sequences that feel a bit too melodramatic. Movies of course need conflict, but some of the scenes with certain characters came across as exaggerated.

A lot of this stems from subplots related to Brittany's roommate and a romantic relationship later in the picture. From changes in tone to characters acting unrealistically, there are pieces here that don't seem to work.

The movie is still boosted, though, thanks to Bell, who takes charge in the movie with a heartfelt, earnest performance. Bell wonderfully portrays the struggle of someone trying to turn their life around and how difficult it can be when a person is also carrying emotional weight and unresolved issues.

Writer Paul Downs Colaizzo, who also directs, has a script that for the most part provides laughs and includes its fair share of feel good moments. Although, the film's third act could probably be somewhat tighter and overall the script doesn't reach the heights of other recent dramedies.

Like Brittany herself, "Marathon isn't perfect, but as a mid-year crowd-pleaser, it does its job well enough. 3 out of 5.

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