The Do-Deca-Pentathlon

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Do-Deca-Pentathlon Movie Poster Image
Brothers reunite in warm indie dramedy; some language.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 76 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

After years of fighting and competing, brothers learn to set aside their differences and love each other. This brings the rest of the family closer as well.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the characters are selfish and deceitful in many ways. They're all good people, but when they get together as a family, they regress to childish behavior.


Two brothers have a fistfight, with pushing and wrestling. Characters also argue a great deal, and in a few scenes, the main character explodes into fits of rage and anger. There are also some somewhat tense events in the competition, such as a fierce arm-wrestling match.


The main character is married, and he's shown being affectionate and comfortable with his wife. They kiss once or twice, and she sits with him in the bathroom while he takes a bath (no graphic nudity shown). The other major character is briefly seen in a strip club talking to a stripper, but there's no nudity.


"F--k" is used more than a dozen times throughout, as well as "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "crap," "suck," "goddamn," "d--k," "hell," and "son of a bitch," as well as "God" and "Jesus" (as exclamations). Some swearing comes from a pre-teen boy, and adults swear in front of him as well.


Slurpees are shown and mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults occasionally drink beer. The main character takes prescription medication (presumably for depression). His wife sneaks off to smoke a cigarette in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Do-Deca-Pentathlon is an independent dramedy from filmmaking brothers Jay and Mark Duplass. The biggest issue is language, with more than a dozen uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and other words, some of which are heard in front of, or from, a pre-teen boy. Characters argue and fight; the main character throws a few angry, raging fits, and there's a big fistfight. There's no real sex, but a husband and wife are comfortable and affectionate with each other, and one character is briefly seen in a strip club (no nudity). Characters occasionally drink or smoke cigarettes. The movie is more likely to appeal to grown-ups, though fans of the Duplass brothers will certainly want to see it.

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What's the story?

Middle-aged Mark (Steve Zissis) prepares to take his wife and son back to his childhood home for his birthday party. He hopes that his brother Jeremy (Mark Kelly) won't be there. Years earlier, the brothers held a competition, "the do-deca-pentathlon" -- 25 events, including push-ups, pool, arm-wrestling, and breath-holding -- that ended controversially and left their relationship in tatters. But Jeremy does arrive, and it's not long before the brothers start ripping at each other. And thus, the competition begins anew, but Mark must keep it a secret from his wife (Jennifer Lafleur), who fears that it will put Mark under too much stress. Will the brothers' conflict finally be resolved, or will it tear the family apart in the meantime?

Is it any good?

Brothers Jay and Mark Duplass have done it again, using their sharp writing, appealingly hangdog characters, and no-frills filmmaking to come up with another winner. Even better, they've cooked up some strong characters and believable family relationships and played them out in an economic 76 minutes. Despite THE DO-DECA-PENTATHLON's focus on the two brothers, the wife, mother, and son characters aren't left behind.

Actors Kelly and Zissis conjure up a genuine brotherly chemistry and turn in emotionally raw -- and physically demanding -- performances. The movie deals with the potentially uncomfortable modern-day man-child syndrome, but it points to love and acceptance as a possible solution, and it does so with a generous helping of humor and levity. Indeed, the balance of comedy and drama here is just right, and The Do-Deca-Pentathlon never runs out of steam, heart, or laughs.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationship between the brothers. What causes them to fight like this? Why would the fight go on for years and years? Do you think it's realistic?

  • The Do-Deca-Pentathlon ultimately has a positive message about communicating and bringing families back together, but are there any positive role models? If so, who, and why?

  • Have you ever competed with your brothers or sisters? Was it fun or stressful? What's the appeal of competition or sports?

  • Jeremy wonders why Mark is so unhappy when he "has everything," i.e. a wife and a son, whereas Mark is jealous of Jeremy's "freedom." Are either of them correct?

Movie details

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