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Movie Review: Get Duked! (2019)

Posted: April 12, 2021 in Comedy
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Three rowdy British high school students, DJ Beatroot (Viraj Juneeja) Dean, (Rian Gordon) Duncan (Lewis Gribben) and a shy home-school student, Ian (Samuel Bottomley) are sent to the Scottish Highlands to compete for the Duke of Edenborough award. Ian thinks it would look great on his high school transcripts, but the other three just want to smoke, drink and have fun. DJ Beatroot fancies himself a rapper, Dean is a pot head, and Duncan isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Their teacher, Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris) gives them a map and tells them to meet them at a designated campsite, but Dean uses the map as rolling papers and makes a huge joint. On their way to the campsite, they get shot at by someone dressed as the Duke of Edenborough (Eddie Izzard) starts shooting at the four boys. Somehow the panicked boys make it to the campsite, and Duncan suspects Mr. Carlyle, and calls the police. The local police department thinks the perpetrators are a terrorist drug gang who listen to hip hop. Can they find the real shooter before he kills the boys?

Get Duked aspires to be Shaun of the Dead, a vastly superior satire about a slacker, who springs into action when his favorite pub is under attack by zombies. It aspires to be a coming-of-age movie but the camaraderie of the four kids is an open question. It aims to be a satire of rural police, sort of a Highlands Hot Fuzz, but the barbs aren’t sharp enough. The writer tries to do a lot of retroactive exposition and revision to make up for earlier blunders in the script, but that rewrite is too little too late. Instead of the backing and filling at the end, there should have been a backstory about the Duke, and why he was the way he was. What Get Duked tuns out to be, is a stoner comedy about dumb guys doing dumb things an facing no consequences. There is nothing in this movie that Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke or the Harold and Kumar movies haven’t done first and better. And it breaks the cardinal rule of comedy, it just isn’t that funny.

The acting isn’t great. Eddie Izzard who was the only good part of The High Note, gave a flat, lackadaisical, uninterested performance. Viraj Juneeja overplays DJ Beatroot so badly that he tries to force himself into a starring role. His acting and comedic timing seems rushed, his rap skills are mediocre at best. Samuel Bottomley does his best with a poorly written character. Lewis Gribben plays a dumb guy quite affably. But no one really stands out in this film as particularly funny or likeable.

Director Ninian Dorf, who’s also the writer, tries mightily to add visual excitement to this film, like doing multiple crane shots and even a psychedelic scene, but what should have been the set piece, the confrontation between the boys and the Duke was filmed in the dark, making it hard for the viewer to see what should be the climax of the film. Dorf gets a lackluster performance from the biggest star in the film, and that’s inexcusable. And Izzard was an executive producer, which means he paid himself to give a lousy performance. Tobey Maguire was also a producer.

Get Duked! A Knight to Forget

victoria and abdul

In 1887, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) celebrated her Golden Jubilee, to commemorate the occasion, the royal family mints a mohur, or gold coin, and finds a Muslim clerk named Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal) is chosen to present the mohur to Victoria.  Another Indian Muslim named Mohammad, (Abdeel  Akbar) goes with him.  At the Jubilee, Abdul causes a stir by making eye contact with the queen .  Later Abdul causes a bigger stir, by kissing Victoria’s feet.  Abdul Karim then gets a private audience with the Queen and recommends that he become her munshi, or teacher.  Abdul proceeds to teach her to speak and write in Urdu, the language of Muslims in India. Abdul tells the Queen that it was the Hindus that started a recent rebellion against the British, and Victoria is so taken with Abdul that she takes his word for everything he says.

The sudden closeness between Queen Victoria and Abdul doesn’t sit well with the rest of the royal family, especially Victoria’s son, Bertie. (Eddie Izzard) Bertie told Victoria that the Muslims sparked the 1857 mutiny against the British.  The revelation hurts Victoria to the core because she feels betrayed by Abdul, does she confront Abdul about what she finds out?

This is a woefully bad film, filled with gushy sentimentality, but absolutely no emotional intensity at all.  Abdul is portrayed as a sycophantic servant, bowing and scraping and even kissing her feet, which in real life would have got him shipped back to India in a box.  Victoria is first seen as on death’s door and then after one look at Abdul, she miraculously springs to life.  Victoria is written not as the prim and proper queen of history, but as part mother, part lover of Abdul.  This movie sometimes resembles British revisionist propaganda, because Abdul is completely subjugated and seemingly loving every minute of it.  Whatever the veracity of the story of the friendship of Victoria and Abdul, and there is really no objective way to know how close they were, it is undeniable that their relationship had no bearing on the relationship between their two countries, which continued to be one of colonizer and colonized for another 60 years.

The acting is subpar, Judi Dench who was nominated for an Oscar for this role, tries her best, but is vanquished by a confusing script, which makes her sickly to the point of having others clothe her in the beginning of this film, yet spry enough to dance in the middle of the film, not to mention her confusing relationship with Abdul.  Eddie Izzard gives a strong performance as Bertie, the power hungry ruthless future King Edward.  Izzard plays Bertie as a man with no conscience or empathy, it’s a great performance. Ali Fazal is terrible, he plays Abdul like a child trying to please his mother, that’s partially the script’s fault, but a more experienced actor would have added some nuance to the role.

Director Stephen Frears brings very little to this movie even though he is well-known for his period pieces like Dangerous Liaisons, and Elizabeth about Queen Elizabeth II.  Other than the pacing which is pretty good, the rest of the direction is unremarkable.  There is nothing visually arresting about this film, and he gets lackluster performances from most of the cast.

Victorian and Abdul:  Royal flush it in the toilet.