‘The Do-Deca-Pentathalon,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Boys will be boys. Always.

Testosterone may not confer eternal youth on the male of the species, but it does enforce perpetual juvenile traits that can never truly be bred out of men.

These come to the fore in Jay and Mark Duplass’ “The Do-Deca-Pentathalon.” A shaggy, basic tale of fraternal jealousy writ large, “DDP” is funny, if not deep, an amiable, sometimes aggressively funny film that occasionally drags. Yet there are obviously funny people at work here, who understand the fine line between hysteria and hysterical.

It’s Mark’s birthday, so the dumpy, balding Mark (Steve Zissis) takes his wife Stephanie (Jennifer Lafleur) and preteen son home to his mother’s house for the occasion. Conspicuously not invited: Mark’s brother Jeremy (Mark Kelly), apparently a source of stress and friction for Mark – and everyone around them when they get together.

The brothers seem not to have spoken in years and, when Jeremy turns up unexpectedly for the weekend, we learn why. The two of them have always been neurotically competitive, so much so that, Mark eventually reveals, Mark’s been in therapy because he gave himself a heart problem stressing over it.

How bad was it? Jeremy brings up the Do-Deca-Pentathalon, a 25-event personal Olympics in which the two of them had challenged each other as teens. The final score was 12-12; the conclusion of the final event, a breath-holding competition, was inconclusive because their father pulled Mark out of the water because he thought he was drowning.

This review continues on my website.

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