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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Strong themes of courage, perseverance, and self-control are demonstrated in the way Brittany begins running and eventually improves to the point in which she enters a marathon. She improves realistically -- slowly, with great effort, and over a period of time. Though the movie clearly depicts fat-shaming as wrong, there's some insulting language directed at people with larger body types (one woman is called a "fat girl" dismissively, and another is told that her husband can't possibly love her at her size, etc.), and the storyline does buy into the idea that a healthy athlete is a slimmer one.
Positive Role Models
Brittany is a realistically flawed person who doesn't always make the "right" choices but changes her situation through grit and determination and transforms her personal relationships through greater empathy and caring. All of the characters are kind-hearted and relatable -- they sometimes make mistakes, but they own up to them and try to atone. Characters change and grow over the course of the movie. The cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, and body type.
Violence & Scariness
Some cruel/insulting words.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters have sex in bed with moaning and thrusting; no nudity, but in one scene a man fiddles with a condom before returning to bed and having sex under the covers. A woman cries after sex and receives realistic reassurance that her partner cares about her feelings. A man asks a woman to go to the bathroom with him at a club and hands her napkins to cushion her knees, implying that he expects oral sex.
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Frequent use of words including "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "bulls--t," "hell," "damn," "oh my God," "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation). Expect words for body parts, too: "t-ts," "boner," "c--k," "d--k." Some insulting language directed at people with larger body types.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many scenes depict binge drinking/drinking to excess, clearly intended to suggest unhappy/frayed lives. Brittany gulps down liquor at a club, takes unnamed prescription pills (then throws up in a toilet), and vapes something. Two characters smoke pot in a bonding scene (recreational marijuana is currently decriminalized in New York, where this movie is set). One character is an ex-IV drug user, who talks about her old habit.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Brittany Runs a Marathon is a heartfelt dramedy about a woman (Jillian Bell) who changes her life when she starts running regularly. The movie maintains an uplifting tone despite many uncomfortable scenes in which people treat each other badly. Characters change slowly over the course of the movie and learn how to be kinder to others and to themselves, but before they get there, they demonstrate some iffy behavior. Brittany and her friend/roommate use substances irresponsibly: they take unnamed prescription pills, use something in a vape pen, and binge drink. Brittany also smokes pot (marijuana is decriminalized in New York, where the movie is set). Sexual content includes a scene in which a man asks for (and, the movie implies, receives) oral sex from Brittany at a dance club and another in which characters who've gotten to know and respect each other have what looks to be mutually pleasurable sex with moaning and movements (no nudity). Several uncomfortable scenes involve fat-shaming, though the movie depicts this practice as wrong; the movie can also be seen as supporting the idea that "real" runners are slim/lean. Language is frequent but generally used in the context of humor: "f--k," "bitch," "a--hole," "goddamn," "bulls--t," etc. A diverse cast inhabits relatable characters, who make mistakes but then try (and succeed!) at doing better. Themes include courage, perserverance, and self-control. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Audiences who've seen a few female-focused "nottie to hottie" movies could be forgiven for thinking this gorgeous, affecting movie might be similarly shallow and misogynistic -- but they'd be wrong. Brittany is a delight from the moment she shows up on screen, with every one of her mercurial emotions visible on her face as we watch her navigating her not-good-enough life: the nothing job she doesn't work hard at, her toxic relationship with her best friend, the men who don't notice her unless they want something from her. In an early scene, Brittany finally gets some attention from a foxy guy at a club who slurs "You're fine" before asking her to join him in the bathroom and offering her a stack of bar napkins: "You can rest your knees on these," he says.
But soon enough, she's lacing up her sneakers and heading out, determined to make at least some changes in her life. Mild spoiler alert: It works. But while having a woman beat a path to betterness through outward physical transformation is truly a cinematic cliche -- witness the many makeovers in movies from Cinderella to Grease to Now, Voyager -- in Brittany's case, it feels both more authentic and deeper. Her physical changes aren't the be-all and end-all of her story. Instead, her metamorphosis comes more from committing to something and finding that she has the inner strength to stick with it than from looking conventionally cuter. And her most lasting changes come not from a smaller dress size but instead from the changed relationships she has with her family and friends. In short, this is no mere makeover movie. It's nothing less than a hero's journey, with a hero you'll want to cheer on.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate