What do you get when you mix Surviving the Game with the stoner antics of Pineapple Express and the endearing bad boy qualities of Attack the Block? You get something like Get Duked!, a new Scottish comedy that may try too hard at times but often is charming, funny, and sometimes thrilling.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award is given to teenagers who can survive a challenging hike and prove they have teamwork, orienteering and foraging skills. Most that face the challenge is forced to do so as punishment from teachers. A few see it as an accolade for their university applications. Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and DJ (Viraj Juneja) are in the first group. This trio was facing expulsion and instead chose to face the challenge, mostly to be away from adult supervision for a couple of days. Ian (Samuel Bottomley) is the overachiever who has been homeschooled and wants to get the award to help with his college prospects. This motley crew think they are just going to do some hiking and camping for the next two days but early on it becomes clear that they are being hunted like something out of The Most Dangerous Game. Ian catches on quick that they are going to need to work together but the other three do not, even using the map they have for rolling papers to get high.
The hunters, Duke (Eddie Izzard) and Duchess (Georgie Glen), are fed up with this younger generation who seem to have no appreciation for hard work at the foundation of the original challenge. They are Boomers and see the lack of appreciation the younger generation has for things. In reality, Dean, Duncan, and DJ have accepted their lot in life and aren't going to try for something they can't see happening. The Duke and Dutchess see this as laziness and thus take it upon themselves to hunt and kill the boys.
Dean, Duncan, and DJ are the quintessential burnouts but also become charming in their own way. Like Ian, we are first turned off by their crassness but soon learn to enjoy their company. There is a b-story involving a bread thief and two police officers who are trying to solve it. Sergeant Morag (Kate Dickie) and PC Hamish (Keith Guthrie) aren't exactly the brightest detectives. One of the joys of the film is how director Ninian Doff brings these storylines together in the final act.
Get Duked! is very funny thanks to a very game cast and some wonderful gags. In particular, a hallucinogenic detour involving rabbit poop and a group of aging farmers makes for a memorable sequence. There is also a wonderful scrappiness to the film and how the boys fight off their hunters. The unlikely foursome grows a bit and ends up embodying the Duke of Edinburgh challenge in surprising fashion.
Get Duked is an energetic, hilarious thriller at times. It has a manic quality to it that feels fresh and unique. The four leads are all a blast to spend time with. There are some moments where the film gets so silly it cannot maintain any suspense but it manages to bounce back for a rousing third act with a few fun twists. Overall a rollicking good time of drugs, dropouts, and devilish dukes.