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"GET DUKED!"
(2020) (Rian Gordon, Samuel Bottomley) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Black Comedy: Four teenagers come to realize that their attitude adjustment based camping program is really a cover for rich elitists who want to hunt and kill them.
PLOT:

For years, the Duke of Edinburgh Camping Expedition has served as a multi-day event in the Scottish Highlands to tame juvenile delinquents through camping related activities. Dropped off by substitute outdoor education teacher Mr. Carlyle (JONATHAN ARIS), teenage friends Dean Gibson (RIAN GORDON), Duncan MacDonald (LEWIS GRIBBEN) and William DeBeauvoir, who fancies himself as the rapper DJ Beatroot (VIRAJ JUNEJA), are the latest to be put through the program.

The odd man out, though, is fellow teen Ian Harris (SAMUEL BOTTOMLEY), a home-schooled kid whose parents think will benefit from the team-building camaraderie where the boys will be left to their own devices to make their way across the Highlands sans, of course, without any help from their smartphones.

Little do they know -- but they quickly learn -- that they've been dropped into a Most Dangerous Game type situation where rich elitists are intent on hunting them down and killing them. That arrives in the form of the half-masked The Duke (EDDIE IZZARD) and The Duchess (GEORGIE GLEN) who look at such juvenile delinquents as vermin that need to be culled from the herd.

Unaware of that, local police officers Sgt. Morag (KATE DICKIE) and PC Hamish (KEVIN GUTHRIE) come to believe -- through a series of misunderstandings including the presence of hallucinogenic rabbit droppings -- that a notorious bread thief is the least of their problems and that they're dealing with terrorists in their midst.

As they try to find those people that don't exist, the teenage boys do their best to avoid the killers, and eventually decide to turn the tables on them.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10

I've never understood the allure of big game hunting, especially when that involves endangered species. Yes, I understand it stems from a desire to display power and dominance and almost always involves people who do the same through their expensive cars, huge yachts, and so on.

Aside from the bragging point of killing somewhat rare species, you'd think they'd consider going the next logical step and start hunting people, right? After all, that's the ultimate power play, particularly if one can get away with it.

That was the point and plot gist of Richard Connell's 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game," a troubling tale that's been adapted to both the small and big screen multiple times. That includes, most recently, the political satire "The Hunt" that was released earlier this year right when theaters began shutting down due to the pandemic.

With all that's gone on since then and days disappearing into themselves due to lockdowns, people working from home, and so on, that seems like a lifetime ago and thus the arrival of another similarly plotted film might not suffer from the temporal proximity to its predecessor.

And that new film is "Get Duked!" which was previously titled "Boyz in the Wood" (an obvious play on John Singleton's 1991 crime drama "Boyz n the Hood"). Unlike that flick, this one is of the black comedy variety and specifically of the British style of humor.

With its occasional quickly displayed material, fast edits, and across the pond slang, at times it feels like a Guy Ritchie flick as filtered through the silliness of Monty Python, albeit without all of the highly stylized, super slow-mo violent action moments.

With an old film reel introducing the basic idea behind the setup, we learn that the Duke of Edinburgh Camping Expedition is designed to instill better behavior in teens and thus reroute them in a better direction for the rest of their lives. Here, the trio of boys in need of such recalibration are Dean Gibson (Rian Gordon), Duncan MacDonald (Lewis Gribben), and William DeBeauvoir (Viraj Juneja), a.k.a. rapper DJ Beatroot (VIRAJ JUNEJA).

Along with home-schooled teen Ian Harris (Samuel Bottomley) who's the opposite of a delinquent but whose parents believe could benefit from outdoor camping activities with other boys, they're dropped off in the Scottish Highlands and left to their own devices, although that doesn't include smartphones as there's no cell service.

Without Ian, it's questionable whether the other three could survive in the wild, but that's before they realize that two older "high society" types -- The Duke (Eddie Izzard) and The Duchess (Georgie Glen) -- are desirous of culling the herd of "vermin" like them.

As the teens try to avoid them, the related commotion and misreading of what's occurring cause local police officers Sgt. Morag (Kate Dickie) and PC Hamish (Kevin Guthrie) to believe their community has been invaded by drug-dealing rapper terrorists and thus put aside their efforts to find the local bread thief whose penchant for anything bread-related has left the locals bereft of such staples.

I can't say I was ever bored and I did laugh several times. But this is well-worn material, and even with the inclusion of some mushroom induced hallucination moments, first-time feature filmmaker Ninian Doff -- who works from his own screenplay -- gets only so much mileage out of it. Unlikely to register with big game hunters who are probably too egotistical to realize the satirical commentary is targeting them, "Get Duked!" rates as a 5.5 out of 10.




Reviewed August 25, 2020 / Posted August 28, 2020


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