Every once in a while a film comes along, laden with critical praise and heightened expecations. Can Hunt for the Wilderpeople live up to the hype?
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016)
Ricky Baker (Julian Denison) is a troubled youth being transported by child welfare officer Paula (Rachel House) and police officer Andy (Oscar Kightley) to his next foster home. He will be staying with his Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hector (Sam Neill). Ricky is a 13 year old from the inner city, and finds moving to the remote farm pretty difficult. Gruff bushman Hec is distant to the youngster, but Bella shows enough love and warmth for both of them:
Just when Ricky is starting to fit in, with his new dog Tupac, a tragic event leads to Ricky running away. Hec finds him (very quickly) but injures his ankle. When Paula returns for a routine visit and finds them missing, a manhunt starts for Hec and Ricky. Paula thinks that Hec has kidnapped Ricky, and when rumours spread, various hunters, tourists, and eventually the police, join the search. Can Hec and Ricky stay ahead of hunt for the wilderpeople, and survive in the bush?
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a fantastic movie, heart warming and tragic in pretty much equal measure. It is also one of the funniest films I have seen in a long time. There are plenty of quotable lines, and like Waititi’s previous film What We Do In The Shadows, there’s also a real charm to the characters. Vampire Viago was the sensitive centre of Shadows, and here it is Sam Neill’s Hec who slowly unravels his ultra macho bushman image over the course of the journey.
Also, Julian Dennison is amazing as the young Ricky Baker. What starts out as a troubled child becomes an all out action hero performance. The skux life really did choose him.
The real quality in this film comes from the small touches in the supporting cast. Rachel House (who also voiced Moana’s grandmother) makes Paula a comedic treat. The police officers and the other people in the bush are all very funny as well, but not just jokes. Waititi deserves credit for such a funny script, and the film looks amazing, with the New Zealand countryside looking as beautiful as ever.
So in tribute to Ricky, here’s my review in haiku form. A haik-view, if you will.
This film is really good
And now it is on Net-flix
Go watch it right now.
In fact, it’s getting one of these
Until next time, stay gold Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS As a special treat for reading all the way to the end, here’s the excellent, and very funny, Team Thor short that Waititi made as an explanation for what Thor was up to during Captain America: Civil War.
PPS As an extra special treat for reading all the way to the very end, here’s probably my favourite exchange from Hunt for the Wilderpeople