Director: Ninian Doff
Writer: Ninian Doff
Starring: Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, James Cosmo
As punishment for setting fire to a toilet, three school friends have to do a hike across the Scottish Highlands for a duke of Edinburgh award, along with a fourth who volunteered to do it because it looks good on his CV. However, they soon become hunted by wealthy aristocrats, who plan to teach the youth of today a lesson.
I must confess that I remember the Duke of Edinburgh award being a thing whilst I was at school, and I certainly never imagined there ever being a film about it! These days the gap between the supposed ‘millennials’ and the ‘baby boomers’ is quite prevalent and very much a contentious one in society, and though I do not think that for one second Get Duked! even claims to be any kind of profound examination of the deep societal divides between these two very different generations, it does serve as a surprisingly effective backdrop to the film’s rather slapdash narrative.
It is in its simplicity that the film is at its most effective, and the initial concept of 4 millennials, 3 of them who are delinquents that cannot survive without looking at their phones for 5 seconds and all tick certain clichéd boxes being joined by another youngster who is the complete opposite is not exactly very original. Though the film is happy to embrace character clichés, it does deal with this very effectively to give us four very likeable main characters, and the first third of the film is the best bit as it relies mainly on the banter-based dialogue between the four of them. All four of them of course fulfil the usual clichés that would be associated with a film of this genre, and these clichés are slightly tweaked to fit those of the millennial generation. Either way, they are glaring clichés, but thanks to the spirited performances from the four of them and the great on-screen chemistry that they share, we cannot help but relate to them and care about them.
After this point when they are pursued by Eddie Izzard’s gun-wielding and mask wearing ‘duke’, bump into some drug-taking local farmers (as the rabbits eat magic mushrooms their poo is apparently an even more potent version) and are pursued by some incompetent local police officers that have had nothing better to do recently than pursue the local bread thief, things get a bit overly complicated and contrived. While admittedly the film always plays things for laughs, so the ridiculous plot contrivances are slightly more forgivable, it does lose its way in the final third as it tries to tie everything up. This is particularly the case with the ‘antagonists’, who claim to want to kill the youth of today, and though the film does of course require antagonists, their inclusion does always feel quite trivial (even if it does tie in with the mildly satirical millennial versus baby boomer element), and the overall tone of the film stops there from ever being any effective sense of danger when they are around. Meanwhile, while their incompetence and desperation to justify their existence is amusing, the police officers in pursuit do often fill like filler, while the often hyperactive visuals (used to depict over excessive consumption of rabbit poo) lose their novelty very quickly.
Get Duked! Will certainly never be the most memorable film of all time, but it is actually a very easy to watch and genuinely amusing 90 minutes thanks to having four extremely likeable central characters and some great dialogue shared between them. What happens within the narrative does get increasingly ridiculous, but because of the four main characters being so endearing, this is just about forgivable.
Though its overall story is increasingly contrived, thanks to the spirited performances from its four protagonists, Get Duked! Is an enjoyable and very watchable film that is often a genuinely funny and light-hearted, if highly forgettable, highland romp.
At time of writing Get Duked! Is available to stream on Amazon Prime