In Reviews

August 18th, 2020




Surviving in the wilderness is not my thing either. However, I might enjoy the open air if I was with a few friends- in whatever capacity that is. But in Get Duked! having friends, no matter how wild they are, might make the experience worth it. Writer/director Ninian Doff has made a bit of his own British version of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, where he plucks four wreckless high school boys, and gives them the “punishment” of participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Wilderness games. Think of it as a Boy Scout excursion, where kids get a map, carry supplies, and must hit various checkpoints, all to win the “coveted” Duke of Edinburgh trophy. That’s much easier said than done with this group. Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja), and Ian (Samuel Bottomley) are a foursome of outcasts, hoping to meander through the trek, until they start getting hunted by a group of older Duke of Edinburgh winners. It turns into a mad dash expedition, with embarrassing falls, drug hallucinations, and a bit of teamwork along the way. By the end, you will be ready to Get Duked!

The introduction to each of the guys is brief and to the point, mixed with flashbacks, and animated effects. Dean is a troublemaker that cares little about school or anything. Duncan is the wild one, a pyromaniac that burnt down a library. And DJ Beatroot, he keeps changing his rap name, and only hangs with the other two guys because he wants a crew. Ian, well he is actually there because he wants to be. He volunteered for the experience and a chance to make a friend. Sadly, he is stuck with these guys, but at least he can learn a thing or two about himself.

The screenplay by Doff is not flashy, but he seems to understand these guys, drawing a unique picture of comic-strip-like characters, and an accurate reality. The dialogue is filthy with a sharp tongue, and the various characters surrounding the four boys- all in positions of power- carry a hilariously ignorant way of thinking. There’s a lot of laughs had at the expense of the boys pushing the buttons of their teacher Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris). There’s also a pair of local police- Sergeant Morag (Katie Dickie) and PC Hamish (Kevin Guthrie), they think the boys are a rogue terrorist gang or possible bread thiefs. DJ Beatroot shares his music with a lone farmer we meet along the way, Ian sadly keeps trying to move them on to the next point- with his wilderness checklist in hand- and that is before a man in a creepy mask, known as The Duke (Eddie Izzard) arrives with a gun to hunt the four boys down. And it only gets more wild from there.

It’s easy to think of movies that compare to Get Duked! For me, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which was a tale of an unlikely friendship, made between a kid and his guardian, instantly came to mind. But this is more like South Park in the woods and the humor has the Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg flare, where the narrative outcome changes at every moment. When the four kids try to use bad weed, a CD, and a firework to make a bomb, it’s a hilarious display of them having no idea what they are doing, but in Get Duked! something is always bound to happen. That’s where the race to win the Duke of Edinburgh becomes a true fight for survival and the last act is one of the funniest moments in a movie of 2020.

Get Duked! is not at all what I was expecting and that’s a good thing. It’s the sort of movie you know little about and end up delightfully surprised by an original screenplay, a belly full of laughs, and an unpredictable adventure. It’s great to see there’s still some solid comedy that can be written today and it arrives in the most unexpected of comedies. Get Duked! It will be an adventure in the wilderness with the strangest group of guys and you won’t mind doing it all over again with them. Next time, it might be even more fun.



Written by: Leo Brady

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