Brittany Runs a Marathon
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Brittany Runs a Marathon

There have been some mighty big deals at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but there may be no entry there this year that seems more of a The Least of These slam-dunk for a major breakout than “Brittany Runs a Marathon.” 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.

Drawn from the actual experiences of the writer-director’s best friend, also named Brittany, the inspirational story of an overweight New York woman’s long hard road to improvement — not just figure- or health-wise, but also in how she views herself and other people — The Lodge is sure to become a favorite for those facing similar issues, or indeed anyone who needs a dose of motivational encouragement. It’s also a whip-smart comedy with some real emotional depth that could click with general audiences if given the chance. While the lack of marquee stars means that kind of access won’t come automatically, prospects are bright indeed, and the film should provide a career boost for all significant participants.

Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a 28-year-old Manhattanite who seems to be living the post-collegiate dream of having maximum fun in the big city. She goofs around at The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind a requisite barely-bill-paying, front-of-the-house job at an Off Broadway theater, then parties nearly every night with flatmate Gretchen (Alice Lee), a wannabe Instagram star. But in truth, all this is starting to feel rudderless and old. A visit to a doctor tells Brittany much more than she wanted to know: He says her stats (particularly blood pressure) are all wrong for her age, and that she needs to make some serious lifestyle changes — including dropping up to 55 pounds.

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