Do-Deca Pentathlon, The (US - BD RA)
Jonathan checks out the second film this year from the Duplass brothers..
Two grown men take sibling rivalry to new heights of hilarity in this winning comedy with heart. All bets are off during a family reunion when estranged brothers Mark (Steve Zissis) and Jeremy (Mark Kelly) secretly resurrect a decades-old quest to be the best. Determined to complete 25 outrageous events in order to crown a true champion, the exhausted pair find themselves leg wrestling, ping-ponging, and laser tagging to the finish line.. while learning a few life lessons along the way. (From the Fox synopsis)
This is the second movie from the Duplass brothers in 2012, following the surprisingly sweet and often very funny Jeff Who Lives at Home. While that film and Cyrus showcased the brothers dipping their toes into mainstream film making, The Do-Deca Pentathlon is them returning to their low budget style and less mainstream actors. The two brothers in the film are played by Mark Kelly and Steve Zissis (a Duplass regular), and despite playing estranged family members they have a real chemistry with one another. Brothers fight. As the middle child in a family of three boys, I've got plenty of first-hand experience to validate this. Zissis and Kelly capture that competitive tension between family members perfectly. This movie begins as a hilarious exploration of that irrational competitive side in all of us before it mutates into a drama about family and responsibility.
What makes the film fun in its first half is that the brothers are forbidden from competing with one another. Mark is seeing a shrink, taking medication and is on doctor's orders to "take it easy", but when he and Jeremy collide there is no suppressing their need to compete. In one scene, the whole family goes to player laser tag together. Jeremy and Mark decide to team up and take out the other family members, including Mark's young son, so they can have the entire arena to themselves for a face-off. They start secretly passing around a checklist of games, breaking away from the family any chance they get to compete in any competition they can get their hands on. It is in these moments that movie is its most enjoyable. But the latter half of the film switches gears.
The focus shifts from the estranged brothers and their silly competition, and the movie becomes more of a dramatic story about male insecurity, over-bearing spouses and the need to grow up and seek self-improvement. When Mark's wife finds out about their secret competition and sucks all the fun out of it, the fun gets drained right out of the movie with it. Even though I find the life lessons in The Do-Deca Pentathlon completely agreeable, it felt out of place in a film that started off as a fun bit of low budget escapism. The earlier scenes feel like something out of the television comedy The League, and then the later portions feel closer to a Noah Baumbach film. Both are tones that I can appreciate, but here together in the same movie they made for an uneven and unsatisfying experience.
The Do-Deca Pentathlon arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Fox Home Entertainment with a 1080p transfer. This is a low budget film; shot economically on a cheaper digital camera than most of the fare that makes it to this format. As a result, this really isn't the kind of material that lends itself to Blu-ray technology. There is a lot of heavy and unattractive digital noise over the image throughout the entire film. As unattractive as it is, the actual Blu-ray transfer is very consistent. I didn't notice any artefacts aside from the overall low grade appearance of the video. It is safe to say that the movie made the transition from its original format to Blu-ray without any post processing issues, though the original format won't look much more attractive than a standard DVD release.
There really isn't much to say about the audio on this release. Like the image, this isn't a sound mix with much production value behind it, and you won't be getting the best use out of your system with this release. It does the job though. Voices are easy to understand. Nearly all of the recorded sound is kept to the center channel with some very occasional activity in the stereo speakers. The rear sound channels felt completely inactive from what I could hear. One of the film's biggest delights is the original music from Julian Wass. When it takes over the sound mix, it is loud, lovely, and it opens up the stereo speakers and LFE channel to give this mundane mix some personality.
Meet the Real Brothers (HD, 5:31) is a short but sweet featurette about two real brothers who decided to do a do-deca pentathlon in 1990. Though their relationship and the outcome of their sporting events differed from what was shown in the film, it was neat to know that the movie was inspired something real. The brother's decide to have another do-deca pentathlon, which is shown in a fun, quick montage.
Rock, Paper, Scissors with the Real Brothers (HD, 4:51) is an extended segment that was shown briefly in the special feature. This is the full event of the two real brothers playing rock, paper, scissors with one another, and it is surprisingly intense. They are constantly swimming around in each other's heads trying to predict the next one's move, and it ends up being a close one. Nothing fancy happening here, but it was a fun way to kill four minutes.
The Do-Deca Pentathlon starts off with plenty of promise and hilarity, but the decision to go for a more serious tone in the second half of the film left me feeling dissatisfied. Another viewing with realigned expectations may help me appreciate it more, but for now this feels like a step back after the pleasant surprise that Jeff Who Lives at Home was. This Blu-ray from Fox has the best AV presentation you could reasonably expect for a low budget movie of this nature. There's only a couple short extras, but they are involving and enjoyable.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.
Review by Jonathan Hogberg
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 18th September 2012
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Meet the Real Brothers, Rock Paper Scissors with the Real Brothers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Cast: Mark Kelly, Steve Zissis, Jennifer Lafleur
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 76 minutes
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