The Do-Deca-Pentathlon | Movie review
The Duplass brothers stage another sibling rivalry.
They say, “Write what you know.” What Mark and Jay Duplass know is brotherhood. The sibling filmmakers have spent a healthy portion of their short careers zeroing in—quite literally, given their penchant for jarring smash zooms—on squabbling grown brothers. That trend continues with The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, in which smart-ass Jeremy (Mark Kelly) and family man Mark (Steve Zissis) revive an ancient family rivalry. The two men have grown apart over the years; we quickly learn that much of the ill will between them stems from a one-on-one, multi-event competition they devised in high school. The games ended with interference, and a winner was never declared. So when Jeremy shows up uninvited to Mark’s birthday weekend, it doesn’t take much to get the two reaching for the pool cues and Ping-Pong paddles, ready for that more-than-a-decade-late rematch.
Arriving on the heels of Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon feels like a welcome return to the filmmakers’ micro-indie roots—though it was shot before either of those star-powered, slightly more mainstream comedies. The movie’s best gag is that Mark and Jeremy have learned the rhetoric of reconciliation but remain doggedly committed to their grudge. (Fearing that Mark’s wife and the rest of the family won’t approve of their renewed combative spirit, the pair concocts a completely phony truce to throw them off the trail.) We can’t say we understand why two filmmakers so hopeless with the camera would write a movie involving constant athletic activity. That said, it could be worse; the Duplass brothers version of this movie shot today would be ugly and sitcom-trite. (Available now on VOD; opens at the Music Box Fri 6.)