Written by: Matt Patti | August 27th, 2020
Get Duked! (Ninian Doff, 2019) 3 out of 4 stars.
Director Ninian Doff’s Get Duked! is an outlandish comedy that stars Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon and Lewis Gribben as four young men who go on a journey together in the Highlands of Scotland. They all arrive in the wilderness hoping to earn The Duke of Edinburgh Award by completing a dangerous hike and working together to make it to the final destination. They’ll traverse mountains, forests and rivers and come across several dangers along the way, all to receive a laminated paper certificate at the end.
Three boys arrive together to complete the challenge: Dean (Gordon), Duncan (Gribben) and the aspiring hip-hop artist DJ Beatroot (Juneja). The three are all dimwitted, trouble-making miscreants who enter the competition to prove that they are worthy and can accomplish something. In the Highlands, they are joined by Ian (Bottomley), an intelligent and accomplished young man who is entering the challenge so he can add yet another accomplishment onto his résumé and use it for college applications. The four are gathered and given a hilariously quick rundown of where to go and what points to meet up with the event organizer at, then are thrown to the wolves to accomplish the challenge. Dean, Duncan and DJ Beatroot have come to the challenge prepared to have a good time, as they all take the drug hash at the beginning of their journey. What starts as a perplexing trek through the vast, empty wilderness soon takes a dangerous turn, though, as the boys soon find that they are being followed by wealthy aristocrats who hunt for sport in the Highlands.
Get Duked! has a certain style that people will either love or hate. It is meant to be an outrageous, wacky comedy about a group of ignorant kids (and one smart one) who try to survive being hunted in the wilderness while high on drugs. It isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, for sure. However, I must say that I found the film quite enjoyable and quite funny. It has some crazy moments that are played for laughs, but the film never gets too insane. Some audacious comedies I’ve seen go too far and have some moments that make the viewer roll their eyes and scoff. Get Duked!, surprisingly, has none of those. It borders on falling off the track but never quite goes there. The plot is always organized, and the central goal stays the same through the madness.
The main cast of the four young boys all do a great job with their performances. They are given some “out there” material to work with and do their best with it. The interactions between these four characters are always interesting and almost always humorous. The banter between the three dim-witted boys and Ian are some of the best parts of the film, as Ian struggles to understand how anyone could be as stupid as those three are sometimes. However, Ian begins to bond with the three others, and an intriguing relationship starts to grow. I found myself laughing much more than I expected. The film has a few far reaches and random moments that seem to come from nowhere, and also relies on things to fall into place – literally – at the perfect time, but it all works, for the most part.
Overall, Get Duked! is a good small comedy with some hilarious moments and fun characters, who may make some very stupid decisions at times, but appropriate enough for them, adding to the humor of the film. Get Duked! also features, underneath all the laughs, a heartwarming message and a coming-of-age story that can inspire. It’s a film that won’t elicit a ton of laughs from everyone, but can be enjoyed by all who watch and shouldn’t appall anyone, either.