Get Duked! could easily be mistaken for an Edgar Wright picture. The editing is fast-paced and stylized without ever coming off as pretentious or attention-hungry. The premise is surreal, creative, and borderline cartoony, but there’s still room for legitimate depth. The film is hilarious from start to finish while also stimulating the viewer’s mind. It could very do for writer/director Ninian Doff what Shaun of the Dead did for Wright. While only time will tell if Get Duked! has the same impact as Shaun of the Dead, it deserves to be used in the same sentence nonetheless.
The film is essentially the Generation Z equivalent to Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game. Set in the Scottish Highlands, three young troublemakers and one homeschooled boy are sent to participate in a character-building camping trip known as the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Rian Gordon’s Dean and Lewis Gribben’s Duncan are both juvenile delinquents who’re more interested in getting high than anything else. Viraj Juneja’s DJ Beatroot aspires to become a rap sensation, passing out his CD to everybody he encounters, including random farmers. The only one who’s invested is Samuel Bottomley’s Ian, who values the rules and checklists. The trip takes a dark turn, however, when the boys are hunted by a masked figure dressed as the Duke, played by an unrecognizable Eddie Izzard.
The boys share such a natural rapport that it’s hard to tell if their dialogue was meticulously crafted or improvised on the spot. While it would’ve been easy to turn these characters into one-note stereotypes, the boys all have unexpected layers. This only adds to the unpredictability of the plot, which juggles a lot of pieces that somehow fit. Kate Dickie’s Sergeant Morag is like Marge Gunderson, albeit a bit more in over her head. Almost accidentally catching wind of the boys’ dire situation, Morag jumps to several ridiculous conclusions. The higher-ups wish that she would focus on bringing in a local bread thief who’s been terrorizing the town. Yet, Morag is convinced that there’s a zombie terrorist in the Highlands, which isn’t too farfetched compared to what’s actually going on.
Where the main storyline has echoes of Shaun of the Dead, the B-story has Hot Fuzz written all over it. At times, Get Duked! is also reminiscent of a John Hughes picture, complete with a surprise musical number that’s equally funny and catchy. Doff even manages to tie all of these elements together in a Seinfeld-esque finale where everything coincidentally comes together. Although you can see the inspiration for Get Duked!, the film has an identity that’s all its own. The film is inventive, brilliantly crafted, and even relevant.
Now more than ever, there seems to be an almost hostile generation gap. Baby Boomers are prone to categorize younger generations as ungrateful and irresponsible, which isn’t always untrue. However, Millennials and Gen Z weren’t behind the Great Recession, the Great Depression, or the countless other dark periods that the old guard refuses to take responsibility for. At the very least, the younger crowd has the potential to correct the mistakes of their predecessors. If that means giving a middle finger to tradition, then so be it. Get Duked! empowers the young adults who’ll one day rule the world in a story about friendship, teamwork, and bread.
Get Duked! releases exclusively to Amazon Prime on August 28.