The Do-Deca-Pentathlon: SXSW Reviews

Mark (Steve Zissis) and Jeremy (Mark Kelly) are brothers with a life-long history of competition. In 1990 they conceive a game of sorts they call the Do-Deca Pentathlon, a series of 25 competitive events to ultimately prove one’s superiority over the other. An unfortunate circumstance leads to victory for Jeremy and the rivalry continues to present day. Jeremy has become a single professional poker player while Mark has stayed traditional with a beautiful wife, Stephanie (Jennifer Lafleur), and son.

Mark’s birthday weekend arrives and against all begging Jeremy comes in for a visit. Awkwardness ensues. At night neither brother can sleep and the fighting is stopped by an impromptu game of ping pong. They stay up all night much to their mother’s (Julie Vorus) amusement and Stephanie’s horror. She tries to get them to leave but instead a secret Do-Deca rematch is born.

The film is based on the real life creation of the Duplass childhood neighbors. Yet, in true Duplass style, while the film is all about the competition, it soon turns into a life-altering event on the brothers’ bond and the overall family relationships. The film is realistic, human and most importantly full of heart. The choosing of only semi-known actors does seem to be a great asset to the film. It’s a low budget, simple film whose whole greatness lies on its honesty. It’s hard to imagine celebrities pulling it off quite in the same way, regardless of how well-loved Cyrus and Jeff Who Lives At Home might be.

If anything may be criticized, the portrayal of female characters, particularly Stephanie, is a tad problematic. While Lafleur is pitch-perfect in the role she is given, the impatient and seemingly unreasonable nature of Stephanie’s personality does not portray women in the greatest light. Some explanation is given for her actions but it’s never sure why she can’t be just a bit more understanding. There’s nothing particularly innovative about the film but what it doesn’t lack is genuine emotion and a complete understanding of where the story needed to go at all times. This is no doubt a Duplass film and that is the greatest compliment in today’s overprocessed film world.