Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016) Review

hunt-for-the-wilderpeopleFresh off the triumph of “What We Do In The Shadows”, New Zealand director Taika Waititi’s follow up is a witty and heart-warming adaptation of Barry Crump’s novel “Wild Pork and Watercress”.

Troubled, hip-hop-loving orphan Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is given one last chance to settle in a foster home or else he’s bound for juvey. Child Welfare officials take him deep into the New Zealand bush to live with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her grouchy husband Hec (Sam Neill) on their farm. Just as Ricky starts to let his guard down and settle into his new life, a tragic change in circumstances causes Hec and Ricky to flee into the bush, finding themselves on the run from child services, their fellow hunters and even the New Zealand army.

Anchored by a wonderfully curmudgeonly performance by Sam Neill, the film is brimming over with sly humour and a wry, warmly human look at two flawed but utterly loveable characters. The scenery of New Zealand is, of course, stunning providing a breathtakingly epic backdrop to the trials and tribulations of Ricky and Hec. Waititi keeps everything light and frothy but manages to pack a real emotional punch in amongst the comedy, balancing every element with a sublime ease.

On this form, “Thor: Ragnarok” (Waititi’s next film) has to be among the most anticipated movies of next year. Utterly, captivatingly delightful, “Hunt For The Wilderpeople” is an affecting, uplifting and hilarious wilderness adventure with bags of charm that ranks amongst 2016’s finest films.  Majestical!

10/10 Score 10

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