The Austin Chronicle

The Do-Deca-Pentathlon

Rated R, 76 min. Directed by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass. Starring Mark Kelly, Steve Zissis, Jennifer LaFleur, Julie Vorus, Reid Williams.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., July 6, 2012

Although The Do-Deca-Pentathlon was filmed in 2008, this microbudgeted production waited for completion until Jay and Mark Duplass finished their two Hollywood financed films – Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Now that the filmmaking brothers have directed such stars as Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, and Ed Helms, and demonstrated that they can wield a camera like the pros they are, the Duplass’ can return to a zoom-happy, no-big-names free-for-all like The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, which premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

The film is a story of brotherly love, albeit warped and competitive. Brothers Mark (Zissis, who has appeared in several Duplass films) and Jeremy (Kelly) have been estranged since the summer of 1990, when they engaged in their self-devised do-deca-pentathlon of 25 events. A family gathering starts their juices flowing again. Mark’s wife Stephanie (LaFleur) is appalled and worries that the games will create too much stress for her husband. Then, once he fabricates a story to get out of the house and compete, she grows angry. Mark’s son (Williams), however, becomes increasingly proud of his dad with every bit of competitive edge that is stripped bare. Here and there, gruff forays toward real communication emerge, and the camera zooms in hyperactively on anything of potential interest. The problem, ultimately, is that little of this is of any real interest. The brothers’ bickering can be amusing at times but even at 76 minutes, the movie feels repetitive and overly long.

For a related interview with Jay Duplass, see "The Fraternal Order," June 1, 2012.

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