I liked Get Duked! from the moment it started but while watching it I knew I wasn’t quite connecting with it in the way I was supposed to. The story tells of four city boys who go hiking in the Scottish Highlands as part of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards only to find that as well as cold weather and orienteering, they have to contend with classist locals hunting them for sport. Two of the lads are rebellious kids with little ambition or prospects, one is a pseudo streetwise wannabe hip hop artist with delusions of grandeur and one is the school nerd out on the trek because of how good it will look on his university application. As I watched this last guy, Ian, trying to get on with the others but struggling with not being part of their world, and as I was having issues with the cultural references, the darkness of the some of gallows humour and the scatological jokes, I realised that I was on this journey with him. It may be some decades since I did DofE myself but that nerd was me, wanting to fit in but being held at a distance, lacking the life experience to feel totally at ease.
To be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve come to realise I’m the nerd but as well observed as they were, the satirical hip hop tunes about male genitalia seemed a little unsophisticated to me. There was also one death that felt very dark to me, even if it they did reframe it at the end and recognising that it prompted one of the funniest lines when my counterpart said; ‘I’ve not seen a murder before, I’m home schooled’. This is it though, I identified with him (I’ve not seen a murder before although I wasn’t homeschooled) and as he began to side with his new compadres so did I.
This wasn’t all on the two of us though, the other characters are really well rounded, nicely differentiated and avoid the cliches of all being bullies or ignorant. It isn’t as though Ian is the entry point for the whole audience. The writing is sharper than you might first think (I first thought) and there is social commentary underpinning the whole thing.
The film is reminiscent of The Hunt, the movie that Trump got his knickers in a twist over, and it bears comparisons to Hot Fuzz (there are comedy police officers and small minded locals with guns) but actually it isn’t really like either of those films, going very much in its own direction. It is also very funny, once you tune into it.
It’s me, I’m a nerd. I’m sorry. The film is good. The dick songs are actually smart too when you appreciate them in context.