Stars: Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, James Cosmo, Kevin Guthrie, Jonathan Aris, Alice Lowe, Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben, Georgie Glen
By Harris Dang
Three unruly delinquents Dean, Duncan and DJ Beatroot (Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben and Viraj Juneja) led by teacher Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris) are brought to the Scottish Highlands to redeem themselves after a lifetime of shenanigans and sabotage. They are to go on the Duke of Edinburgh Trek alongside Ian (Samuel Bottomley), a sincere overachiever to learn teamwork, leadership and orientation. Little do the four know is that the elements of the environment are not the only things that will stand in their way.
In the wilderness, they bump into a pair of wealthy aristocrats (Eddie Izzard and Georgie Glen, recognized by their cadence and their attire) and it turns out that they are out on the hunt and the lead four are the targets. With very little support from the police (led by Kate Dickie and Kevin Guthrie) and the hilariously misleading circumstances, it is up to the four to gather their wits, pull themselves together and prepare to fight back.
“Get Duked!” on paper looks like it belongs in the long list of films from Britain about the broken class divide… However, writer/director Doff does not seem to be interested in that approach at all.”
One of the best things about going to the cinema is to share the communal reactions to a good film; especially a comedy where all can be washed over the positive spirit and hilarity of ongoing funny jokes. On that note, it is quite a shame that one of the best comedies of the year “Get Duked!” (2020) by Ninian Doff will have to be seen streaming on Amazon Prime. It is the type of comedy that would work extremely well with crowds of people watching.
“Get Duked!” on paper looks like it belongs in the long list of films from Britain about the broken class divide like “Eden Lake” (2008) and “Harry Brown” (2009). However, writer/director Doff does not seem to be interested in that approach at all. The story is the antithesis of those films as it is essentially a broad comedic riff of “The Most Dangerous Game” (1932) as it provides incisive commentary on how the lower-class are treated and the effect of environmental surroundings without veering into didacticism but good-natured humour.
Doff is best known for his music video contributions so his filmmaking sense learnt from those projects lends credence to the music video aesthetics as well as the hallucinatory scenes in the film. But what makes the film so remarkably well-done is that Doff manages to establish many disparate elements i.e. bread thieves, sharp forks, social class divides, music videos, cine-literate horror references inept police etc. in ingenious ways that it comes across as hilarious, thought-provoking and refreshingly unpredictable. Doff is also smart enough to know that suspense can come from both horror and comedy and he is able to achieve palpable tension; particularly in the climax where the leads end up in a shack that leads to a secret passageway.
“Get Duked!” is a fantastic directorial debut from Ninian Doff and this reviewer cannot wait to see what he has planned for the future.”
The performances from the supporting cast are all energetic and while they are all pantomime cartoonish, they are in keeping with Doff’s vision and they all display a great sense of comedic timing while they are at it. Standouts include Dickie (spirited and kooky as Sergeant Morag), Izzard (amusingly posh and menacing) and Aris, who hasn’t played a weird role he didn’t like, as Mr. Carlyle, the unfortunate teacher of the four delinquents.
As for the leads, their characterizations could be seen as stereotypical (the brash one, the cynical one, the people-pleaser, the well-behaved one) thankfully the four leads retain a sense of humanity and are all believably naïve and amusingly foolhardy enough to sympathize with them. The standouts of the four are Juneja (whose enthusiasm and desperation of being a successful artist brings plenty of laughs) and Gribben (whose impulsiveness and blissful ignorance is almost charming in a way).
Throw in a brisk runtime and a shrewdly clever ending that ties everything in a neat bow and you have a stellar, laugh-out-loud comedy that is one of the best films of 2020. “Get Duked!” is a fantastic directorial debut from Ninian Doff and this reviewer cannot wait to see what he has planned for the future.
“Get Duked!” is now showing on Amazon Prime.