'The Do-Deca-Pentathlon': Let the 'better brother' games begin
A movie review of "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon," a character piece written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass about two brothers (Mark Kelly and Steve Zissis) who can't stop challenging each other at family reunions.
Special to The Seattle Times
'The Do-Deca-Pentathlon,' with Mark Kelly, Steve Zissis, Jennifer Lafleur. Written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. 76 minutes. Rated R for language. SIFF Cinema at the Uptown.
One brother is shamelessly aggressive. The other tends toward the passive- aggressive. Together they present a challenge to keeping the peace at any family gathering.
We've all known relatives like this, but when they're brothers, and the testosterone is flowing, exasperation can set in pretty soon. Just how long can you take it, especially when it's offered as entertainment?
Actually, at 76 minutes, "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon" is just about right. If it were any shorter, it would lack depth. If it were any longer, it would most likely seem a strain. As is, there's an emotional honesty here that registers quickly and often.
The script, written by Jay and Mark Duplass, two brothers active in the independent film community, is a dark comedy about two "adult" brothers who can't stop turning their mutually bullying behavior into a contest for the title of "better brother for all eternity."
The Duplass brothers, who also coproduced and codirected the movie, seem to know a lot about the subject, though they've chosen to cast the picture with two actors, Mark Kelly and Steve Zissis, who are not them — and not brothers.
Kelly plays Jeremy, outwardly the more stable of the siblings, who had planned on spending a birthday weekend with his wife (Jennifer Lafleur) and son. When his free-spirited sibling Mark (Zissis) shows up, the 25-event games begin (hence the title) and the mood darkens.
They arm-wrestle, they play poker and Ping-Pong and mini-golf. The women in their lives (Mom included) can't compete and, sadly, they know it. If estrangement wasn't on the menu in the beginning, it certainly makes its way onto it by the final act.
Now about that title. It may be appropriate for the movie and the spirit of twisted competition it suggests, but if a title had been designed expressly to frustrate box-office workers at multiplexes, it probably couldn't have seemed more calculating.
John Hartl: email@example.com