by Hope Madden
What does one homeschooled teen and three high school ne’er do wells in trouble for blowing up a lavatory have in common? Impending doom.
The four boys are making the Duke of Edinburgh Award trek across the Scottish highlands. Dean (Rian Gordon), his daft mate Duncan (Lewis Gribben), and the future of hip hop DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneja) have no choice after that lav incident, while Ian (Samuel Bottomley) just earnestly wants to complete the challenge and include the award on his college applications.
But it’s a long hike and a lot could go wrong, especially now that Dean’s used the map to roll a joint. Will Ian ever be able to check off the requirements of teamwork, foraging and orienteering?
Writer/director Ninian Doff showcases his background with music videos, infusing this often laugh-out-loud horror comedy with a remarkably catchy, high energy beat that fits no part of the surroundings, which is perfect.
Toss in the always welcome Eddie Izzard as both the informational video voiceover and the uptight, uppercust elitist with a shotgun and expect more laughs. More still from the hopelessly bumpkin police force (The Witch’s wonderful Kate Dickie and the grinningly hilarious Kevin Guthrie). They toss aside their ongoing investigation into the highland bread thief to look into suspicions of a Satan worshipping London gang of hip hop pedophiles.
Doff’s good natured script sometimes echoes of the Cornetto Trilogy in the way its jabs at society land without feeling cynical or bitter. The film is emotionally generous with its juvenile delinquents. The four leads share a lovely chemistry, each actor effortlessly carving out a unique character while developing a level of authenticity in the emotional bonds between them.
This is not the kind of thing you might expect from a comedy where characters routinely—sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose—chew on rabbit poo.
The horror is light, the comedy raucous, the fun explosive. Get Duked! may not change you, but it will brighten your mood.