We gave it a B+
Two estranged brothers compete over…well, practically over the air they breathe in The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, a teensy, disarming, characteristically shambling story about the routines of slow-moving men from filmmaking brothers Jay and Mark Duplass. Onscreen siblings Jeremy (Mark Kelly) and Mark (Steve Zissis) are grown-ups, at least chronologically. But when Jeremy crashes Mark’s birthday celebration at their mother’s house, the pair resume a cutthroat, dead-serious, 25-event athletic showdown they invented as high school kids. (Their face-offs include holding one’s breath underwater.) The competition is brutal — to the appalled resignation of Mark’s incredibly patient wife (Jennifer Lafleur), who looks on with appropriate womanly dismay at all this deranged, love-hate guy nonsense.
Although newly released, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon was shot four years ago, before the Duplasses’ more spiffed-up Hollywood entries Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. So the filmmakers’ trademark shoulder-shrugging, what-the-hey approach to visual storytelling — all raggedy, with slamming zooms and unsparing close-ups on less-than-glossy male faces — was achieved on even more of a microbudget than most of their stuff. Not that it makes much difference. These movie guys specialize in snapping vignettes of human inconsistency — no fancy lighting required. (Also available on VOD) B+