Get Duked! (2019) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): Hunted in the middle of the Highlands

In my trivial opinion, good comedy always needs some solid ground for its jokes and gags to be funny and effective. In case of “Get Duked!”, which was released on Amazon Prime a few days ago, it throws lots of jokes and gags throughout its 87-minute running time, but not many of them work well enough to elicit laughs from me mainly due to its thin narrative and half-baked character development, and that is a shame considering how much the movie is willing to go wild from the very beginning.

At the beginning, we meet three adolescent troublemakers who happen to participate in a camping trip competition to be held somewhere in the Scottish Highlands. Although none of them is particularly enthusiastic about this camping trip competition, DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and Ian (Samuel Bottomley) have no choice but to go along with their supervising teacher due to each own problem, and the teacher remains quite oblivious to their apparent lack of enthusiasm even when he and they arrive at the starting point of their long journey across the Scottish Highlands.

Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention Dean (Rian Gordon), another member of the group who looks so plain and anonymous that his fellow group members did not even recognize that he was actually on the same van with them from the beginning. Because he regards the camping competition as another important extra-curricular activity to be added to his résumé, Ian is eager to experience a number of wholesome things including teamwork, but, of course, he only finds himself ridiculed by his fellow group members, despite the fact that he is the only one who may be able to guide them across those remote areas of the Scottish Highlands.

Anyway, their supervising teacher eventually goes away as planned after giving them a map and a few instructions and advices, and the movie subsequently shows more of how incompetent Dean’s fellow group members are in many aspects. Needless to say, they are not so prepared well from the start in contrast to Dean, and they are certainly not so pleased to learn belatedly that their smartphones cannot receive any communication signal in the middle of the Scottish Highlands.

Not so surprisingly, the situation gets worse for everyone – especially when Dean’s fellow group members unintentionally damage the map. He naturally tries to search for anything which may help them arrive in their next arrival point in time, but he and his fellow group members continue to wander without any particular helpful direction, and even a gruff farmer they happen to encounter at one point does not help them much.

Meanwhile, we notice a few disturbing signs they unfortunately overlook. Their teacher said in advance that accidents happen from time to time during the camping competition, but we cannot help but become unnerved by a notice board covered with a lot of missing incidents, and there is also a brief but disturbing shot revealing something barely buried in the ground.

Of course, the situation eventually becomes very perilous when Ian and his fellow group members come across a masked old dude who turns out to be quite ready to hunt down all of them. Although they manage to make a counterattack and then run away from the scene despite their clumsiness, it is quite clear to all of them that they must get out of the Scottish Highlands as soon as possible for their survival.

However, instead of dialing up the level of tension, the screenplay by director/writer/co-editor Ninian Doff goes for more outrageousness and goofiness as leisurely rolling its main adolescent characters and some other substantial characters including an overzealous local female police officer ready to investigate anything suspicious. Nothing much happens in her area except the inexplicable case of bread theft, but she is very eager to impress her direct boss, while having no idea on what is really going on outside even when she happens to receive a desperate call from Dean and his fellow group members.

During its second half, the movie gives us a series of wacky moments including an unexpectedly hallucinogenic sequence where one of the main adolescent characters finally comes to have a breakthrough moment he has always wanted, and I chuckled a lot when a certain vehicle finally reaches to its eventual destination with some surprise, but the movie somehow fails to be developed into something more than a merely broad satire. Although it surely makes some biting comments on class conflict as its main adolescent characters come to show their inner defiance and resilience against the lofty and condescending attitude of the villains of the story, but neither of these two contrasting groups rises over the level of caricature, and we only to come to observe their supposedly climactic duel from the distance while having some mild amusement from time to time.

On the whole, “Get Duked!” does not tickle or entertain me enough as trying its satire in a way too obvious and predictable for me, but I appreciate at least the game efforts from its four main young cast members and the other notable cast members including Eddie Izzard, who surely has a little fun with his nasty and pompous supporting character. It is not a total waste of time at all, but there are other recent similar films better than this, and I especially want to recommend you “Ready or Not” (2019), which is more incisive and entertaining in comparison. You will have a more productive time with that bitingly funny film, but I will not stop you at all from watching “Get Duked” if you have plenty of free time to spend.

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