Something like ten years ago, the boring, lazy version of the Dogme movement appeared on American shores. It was dubbed “mumblecore” by some journalist, somewhere, and with it came a wave of less than inspired, less than scripted, amateur films made for $6 and a case of PBR. While I always admired the spirit of these young intrepid filmmakers, boy did I hate their products. One of the few exceptions to this hatred is The Puffy Chair.
In the seven years since Mark and Jay Duplass made The Puffy Chair, they have enjoyed a modicum of commercial success, with films like Baghead, Cyrus, and most recently Jeff, Who Lives at Home. They’ve started working with name talent, and making movies that go to theaters outside of New York and L.A.
And now, they’ve come full circle, back to the beginning.
The Do-Deca-Pentathlon stars frequent Duplass collaborator Steve Zissis as Mark, and Mark Kelly as Jay, two brothers, long estranged until Jay crashes Mark’s birthday weekend at their family home. While tensions flare, Jay goads Mark into reliving an invented challenge of their childhood, The Do-Deca Pentathlon: 25 challenges ranging from ping pong to go-karts, to holding one’s breath underwater. The only question that remains is will this competition bring them closer together, or further drive a wedge between everyone in the house?
Just like The Puffy Chair did seven years ago, this film catches you off guard. It surprises you.
The tension between the brothers feels genuine, and the unhappiness portrayed feels familiar.
The benefit to this story with these actors is that it all seems natural. This is what family feels like sometimes.
The Do-Deca-Pentathlon is a well-crafted drama/comedy that hits a lot of great spots, without feeling overly manipulated.
I’d highly recommend it if you liked any of their previous films, especially Jeff, Who Lives at Home. – [DVD]
DVD Release Date: 9/18/12