‘Get Duked!’ sets out to follow British humor royalty, fails miserably

Get Duked
Amazon Studios/Courtesy

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Grade: 2.5/5.o

British humor may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who’ve taken a fancy to the style find it to be the perfect mix of wit, exaggeration and plain crudeness. Released Aug. 28 on Amazon Prime Video, “Get Duked!” is the latest release to tap into this age-old well of British humor. In its attempt to combine horror with popular teenage recreation and comedy, however, the film isn’t able to weave together a cohesive, attention-grabbing tale.

Following a group of three delinquent students, Dean, Duncan and DJ (Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben and Viraj Juneja) and one dedicated schoolboy, Ian (Samuel Bottomley), the latter attempting to win The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award by trekking through the Scottish Highlands, “Get Duked!” does have its share of good laughs and memorable moments. With a plotline that involves the four being hunted by elderly residents who hope to curb the rowdy youth, there are a few entertaining chase scenes and mishaps that pique interest every now and then.

And if being hunted isn’t enough of a twist, Dean’s prior shenanigans somehow lead a bumbling police duo to abandon their chase after a bread thief and instead come after the students, a mildly entertaining subplot that comes off as overdone.

The majority of the film is just Dean, Duncan and DJ acting like knuckleheads while Ian attempts to make it out alive. Immediately upon arriving at the Highlands, DJ vandalizes the map marker with stickers sporting his rap name, DJ Beatroot — soon to be a big hit with the area’s farmers. The other two of the trio assert their idiocy by smoking fake weed and not knowing how to read a basic map.

All these tangential twists make for a cluttered storyline, not a riveting tale. You can certainly follow along where director Ninian Doff takes you, but the plot simply jumps around too much to create a cohesive narrative. “Get Duked!” would have fared better with two or three well-developed storylines instead of the four or five it tries to shove into a 90-minute movie.

The film gets some credit for having certain scenes that are so bad, they’re almost good. The cutaways to DJ’s makeshift music videos are one example, complete with over-the-top visual effects reminiscent of a low budget self-production. In fact, most of the entertaining parts of the film feature DJ’s dubs and promotional antics in some way.

This is to say that “Get Duked!” does have some laugh-inciting moments, mostly from scenes  that are outright stupid to watch and occasionally from scenes that manage to flow naturally. The rest of the film, however, is rife with forced humors, from the ingestion of rabbit dropping psychedelics to a long string of pedophilia jokes somehow brought into the mix.

Throughout the film, viewers can see bits of punchy British charm peeking through with cheeky one-liners and ludicrous moments reminiscent of a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost comedy. The film relies heavily on these shocking gags, springboarding off of the uncertainty of not quite knowing where the story will go next. Unsurprisingly, “Get Duked!” also tries to throw in more serious scenes to cut through the lack of intellect present. This manifests in a strange fight to the death between old and young generations, as well as a vague identity crisis that DJ goes through as the supposed future of hip-hop.

“Get Duked!” also prides itself on incorporating hip-hop with British charm, featuring good music from the likes of Danny Brown, Run the Jewels and Vince Staples to supplement the chaos going on. Still, the chosen excerpts don’t quite fit the scenes or vibe, again contributing to the disjointed nature of the film. In the end, the best part of the movie is the beautiful scenery, of which there’s no shortage.

The film ultimately tries much too hard to be funny and relatable and suffers from too many jokes not landing. Whether it’s the acting or the script that’s mediocre, the boys are dopey but not fully convincing until well into the movie. Simply put, “Get Duked!” doesn’t have the sharpness and wit of British humor — only the accents.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]. Tweet her at @callmepbj.