Former “MacGyver” writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo this week gives us his Audience Award winner at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” with flawed heroine Brittany Folger (Jillian Bell), a 28-year0old borderline millennial who carries 55 pounds of semi-cute extra fat.

Our heroine is smart, cute but depressed, and spends her nights hiding in a booth selling tickets in an off-Broadway theatre because she thinks she’s the only fat girl in New York City. Really?

When her doctor tells her she has to lose 55 pounds, she frowns and tells him: “That’s a Siberian Husky. You want me to pull a Siberian working dog off of my body?” And, “Of course I’ve slept on a rat, I live in New York.” This leaves us to wonder why she’s not writing for Seth Myers.

As far as I can see, fat isn’t her real problem. It’s her loser attitude, poor makeup skills and Phyllis Diller haircut. Half of her problems could be solved by a first-rate stylist.

“Brittany” slightly works on the strength of its backup cast. There are several nice fresh young actors with futures, who hoped to use this film for their first introductory reel to show casting agents. It might work for them, because casting people don’t care if the movie you were in was a bomb.

Honestly, it’s not clear why she’s having trouble dating at all. Most of the time she comes off like a cute 9-year-old, with a modicum of useful ironic humor and twinkly eyes.

We’re told that Colaizzo based his character on his roommate, and when, at the movie’s end, they show shots of the real Brittany, who is so beautiful, you don’t see a problem.

When given her numbers, Brit is scared enough to start eating right and exercising.

All of this is encouraged, but for her snotty Asian roommate (Alice Lee) by her few friends, her brother-in-law (Lil Rel Howery) and her apartment house neighbor and newly divorced friend Catherine (Michaela Watkins), who happens to be a brand new runner, all three give us the required sitcom menu: A black guy, an Asian friend and a divorced neighbor. Did I mention a cute, cuddly, shaggy dog who appears mid-story?

There is almost a love interest here (a very good Micah Stock) but he’s gay, married and has two kids.

Then there’s a real love interest she meets when she gets a job house sitting an elegant Park Avenue apartment. He’s Jern, (Utkarsh Ambudkar) who has the night shift sitting the house. He’s creepy with a heart of gold, but we’re promised a curtain-call romance.

Brit does run the New York Marathon, as advertised, and wins. I’m kidding — this isn’t Rocky — but when she goes to live with her sister in Philadelphia, just so we don’t miss the point, we get a shot of the original Rocky statue at the bottom of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Brittany Runs a Marathon,” has many laughs, but ultimately, despite its prestigious award, doesn’t make it to the finish line.

J.P.  Devine, of Waterville, is a former stage and screen actor.


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