Dir. Ninian Doff. 87 minutes.
A trio of loutish teenaged “chavs” are sent on an orienteering course in the Scottish Highlands. The three juvenile delinquents are accompanied by Ian (Samuel Bottomley), a dweeby overachiever who is tolerated mainly for his skills with a map and a compass. But this isn’t an odd-couple comedy: once thoroughly lost on the moors, the boys are pursued by the Duke (Eddie Izzard), an upper-class homicidal maniac who has decided to tackle the problem of juvenile delinquency by gunning down teenagers like pheasants.
“Get Duked!” is a cinematic avalanche, propelled with manic energy by first-time writer-director Ninian Doff and by its charismatic young leads. It’s never at a loss for a quip or a macabre sight gag — even the film’s poster features the decapitated heads of its heroes mounted like hunting trophies. A particular standout is “DJ Beatroot” (Viraj Juneja), a wannabe rapper with more enthusiasm than talent, resembling a pint-sized Ali G.
So, why isn’t “Get Duked!” a better film? Even a truly madcap comedy needs the occasional moment to breathe, something that Doff’s mile-a-minute screenplay doesn’t allow us. Almost every word or action delivers some kind of punchline. Tension is never allowed to develop: for instance, the arrival of the films’ severed-face-wearing villain is immediately undercut by one of the boys’ imbecilic suggestion that they stab him with a fork. Even the most absurd of successful comedies — say, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” — have their share of straight moments. Settling down with “Get Duked!” is like cutting into a cake to find that it’s icing all the way through.