For a violent yet light-hearted, foul-mouthed flight of fancy, the outrageous comedy “Get Duked!” will carry you away for a while to the beautiful Scottish Highlands. Four sketchy high schoolers attempt to earn the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which is a wilderness survival challenge that also gives the movie its somewhat confusing title. Once you watch it, the title makes sense, but it sounds easy to pass up, and you don’t want to miss it; the film’s alternate title is “Boyz in the Wood.”
The youths who “Get Duked!” are a group of misbehaving friends who are forced to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award as a punishment for their roles in burning down a school bathroom. Two boys, Duncan and Dean, started the fire experimentally, while their friend DJ Beatroot filmed a hip-hop video in front of the inferno. Into their midst comes a sincere and sensitive young man named Ian, who genuinely wants to win the award and make friends.
While their ineptitude makes the situation dangerous enough, they soon find themselves hunted by a mysterious man wearing the natty hunting garb of the upper class and a Duke of Edinburgh mask (Eddie Izzard). He stalks and shoots at them, claiming he must rid society of vermin like them who don’t respect their elders or appreciate what they’ve been given. This movie is a fairly sharp metaphor for class warfare that is socially relevant while being hilarious and utterly absurd.
The boys, as they become increasingly filthy and bloody and burned from various attacks and their own ill-considered drug use, also succeed in really building their camaraderie. Even when characters improvise bombs using a hip-hop demo CD and a wad of hashish, get run over by a minibus or ingest hallucinogenic rabbit feces (“Farmer’s Courage”), there is, I swear, a note of sweetness that runs through the boys’ devotion to one another. And the more outrageous the action gets, the better that mix works.
While being pursued by the murderous Duke and his wife, the Duchess, the boys are also on the radar of the dim-witted police force, whose biggest criminal concern is a bread thief until they become convinced a gang of terrorist pedophiles is infiltrating the Highlands with drugs and hip-hop. Crimes real and imagined eventually dovetail in a satisfying and, of course, utterly ridiculous conclusion.
This gloriously idiotic misadventure is the perfect ludicrous comedy romp for the right viewer. There is lots of language, violence and drugs, and some imaginatively profane hip-hop lyrics that can be truly appreciated if you watch with subtitles. These scrappy fellows fight against the Duke and Duchess and, by extension, their own bleak economic and professional outlooks, with a sword, a gun and a very sharp fork. And they do surprisingly well.
A great cast of droll supporting characters includes James Cosmo, who you will recognize from such epic fare as “Troy,” “Braveheart” and “Game of Thrones,” as a sweater-wearing farmer who develops an appreciation for the music of DJ Beatroot.
“Get Duked!” is epic, too, in its own seedy way: Four heroes take on the establishment for fame and glory, learning about themselves, growing as friends and helping the police find a notorious bread thief. Most of them blow up their own faces, fall down and maim people, too, while cursing, getting lost and mocking one another. “Get Duked!” is ridiculous in the best way, with a message in support of the grit and determination of the common man thrown in as casually as the film’s many improvised explosives.
“Get Duked!” is available to stream on Amazon Prime
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