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Jay and Mark Duplass' new low-to-the-ground comedy is frequently funny, but nowhere near as good as it should be...
Fox / 77 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: September 18, 2012
Brothers act like dipshits sometimes, and this truism is something that Jay and Mark Duplass understand perfectly in their new picture The Do-Deca-Pentathlon. Sometimes it's pure competition and often it's more than that, but brothers when left to their own actions have a tendency to default into a juvenile, anti-intelligent way of doing things. They punch, they hurl playground retorts, they play pranks - in a fully loving and embracing way, they simply act stoopid every once in a while.
In The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, this is dumbed down neatly and cleanly into a short and sweet 77-minute story in which brothers Mark (Steve Zissis) and Jeremy (Mark Kelly) decide that the only thing that can iron out the idiosyncratic difficulties of their grown-up relationship is to revisit a 25-event competition that they once embarked upon as younger kids. During a trip to mom's house, the two eschew any societal norms or family obligations and fall completely victim to the rigors of this multi-faceted contest, aiming only to outdo one another enough to win their beloved vacuous title.
It's a grand concept, to be sure: to watch Zissis and Kelly work out their inner demons while toting Laser Tag material or trying to stay quiet during super-intense mini golf putts is frequently giddy entertainment, but even though the backdrop of The Do-Deca Pentathlon is solid, the movie feels aimless overall, like it's afraid of making emotional dramatic points that might veer too much off its mumblecore track.
And, as was the case with Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, there really is no point to The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, and that keeps the jovially-natured picture tethered to the ground. Watching grown children like Mark and Jeremy vie for a meaningless title should be more fun and - more importantly - funny than this. The Duplass Brothers' film is lilting and slice-of-life to a fault, but the shame of The Do-Deca-Pentathlon is that they've taken a brilliantly dumbass idea and failed to follow through with it.