‘The Do-Deca-Pentathlon’ Review


Film Pulse Score

Release Date: July 6th, 2012
Currently Playing on VOD
Directors: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 7.5/10

Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass have been steadily making a name for themselves starting with their debut feature, The Puffy Chair, back in 2005. Since then, they’ve put out nothing but great indie comedies including Cyrus, and Jeff Who Lives at Home. It was before filming Cyrus, that they began working on a passion project titled The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, but ultimately put it on hold, since Cyrus is a decidedly bigger film.  Fortunately, the brothers went back to it, polished it up, and put it out for the world to see, and while it’s not their strongest film, it’s certainly worth a watch.

The film stars Mark Kelly and Steve Zissis as Jeremy and Mark, two brothers who have become estranged due to a falling out during a 25-event competition of their own creation.  When Mark returns home to celebrate his birthday, Jeremy makes a surprise visit, and although the two haven’t spoken in years, the bitter feud over the rightful champion reignites, and the competition begins anew.

On the surface this is a story about a 25-event competition that two middle-aged brothers take part in, however there’s much more that can taken from this film. While the event itself is the catalyst that brings out the brothers’ competitive nature, the film focuses more on the family dynamic than actually showing us all the events. As the film progresses, you can see each brother devolving to their former selves, forgetting that they’re adults, and becoming the competitive, petty children they once were.

Other than witnessing the events themselves, one of the funniest aspects of the film is the fact that the two must perform each event in secret, because Mark’s wife forbade him from taking part. The fact that the two must now essentially lie to their family, and continuously find excuses to sneak off together, adds an even more ridiculous layer to the film.

Unfortunately, this produces one of the film’s only problematic elements. Mark’s wife is so bitchy and overbearing, that she becomes a constant annoyance throughout the movie.  Although they briefly touch on the fact that Mark’s doctor instructed him to take it easy, there’s no solid explanation for his wife acting as she does. One could argue that she was just concerned for his health, but that doesn’t make her character any less annoying.

Being an only child, I’m sure there were many aspects of this film that, if I had a brother, I could easily relate to.  It was clear throughout the film, that despite the insane amount of competiveness, Mark and Jeremy loved for each other. This creates a solid mix of comedy and heart, which, if you’ve seen any previous Duplass brothers’ film, is familiar territory.

With all the big summer blockbusters coming out right now, it’s easy to let small films like this fall by the wayside.  Although The Do-Deca-Pentathlon is lighter fare than what we’ve been seeing this summer, it’s a refreshing departure from all the explosions, super heroes, and disappointment.