A New Zealand Foster Kid is sent to live on the edge of a bush as he’s deemed too much of a problem for the city. There he is entrusted to Bella and her Husband Hec, Bella is an ever loving and understanding woman and Hec is a former drifter too set in his ways to give the kid a chance. Ricky is too much of a city kid but manages to fit in with the help of Bella’s love. When Bella dies suddenly and Hec is told that Ricky has to return to the Foster Care system, the young kid decides that instead of going back into the system he’ll go into the bush and live there. He’s soon lost and Hec has to go find him. Hec is injured in bringing the kid back to the farm and during his healing they are presumed to be on the run, so they have to go on the run. With the seemingly never ending bush as the landscape for a cat and mouse game with the authorities it’s the adventure of both Hec and Ricky’s life.
This is just a pleasure to watch. I sat there for the entire film and smiled, laughed, cried, and held on with the characters for the whole length of the film. There are few films like this made these days and that is a big shame. As I’ve explained to you all before I don’t watch trailers, nor read up on movies, I just go and wait for the entertainment to take me to a place where reality leaves my mind. This is done by great storytelling, magnificent performances, and solid production values.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a great coming of age tale that manages to tick every box for films. You have Sam Neill as Hec, he’s a former drifter who with the love of a good woman tries to see the best in life, but when she’s gone he just wants to be alone. Neill is amazing here, you can see his pain at the loss and the realization of the life that Ricky is going to have without Bella. You can’t go wrong with Sam Neill, even as Damien in the Omen 3, which was an awful film but he was still great to watch in the role. But the film belongs to Ricky, the overweight Foster Kid who just wants to find his place in the world, and thinks he’s found it. Julian Dennison is a future talent to watch and his natural comic timing shines through here.
It would be easy for Hunt for the Wilderpeople to take itself too seriously, and easier still for the film to turn into a complete farce, but thankfully the film makers manage to tight rope walk between drama and comedy with ease. The best comedy moments come from the Priest at Bella’s funeral, who doesn’t seem to have a connection between his mouth and his brain, and then a conspiracy theorist who lives deep in the bush. The stunning scenery of the New Zealand bush is a magnificent backdrop to the action and the adventure. But the film really belongs to Neill and Dennison their chemistry is fantastic and blossoms through their adventure in the bush.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a complete gem of a movie, it hasn’t got the big budget of most action adventures but it has what films with huge budgets too often fail to have which is heart. You care about the characters more than you should. You don’t just laugh at them but with them, cry with them, and go through every stage of their adventure with them. This is a complete story with characters that you want to see win at the end. The social commentary on the Foster Care system is accurate from everything we know about it and the balance between farce and pathos is so skillfully done that it triggers the emotions in perfect harmony. I don’t usually gush over movies, but this is the type of film that I’ll keep with me through my life, like The Goonies, Short Circuit, Explorers, I can see myself sitting down on a Sunday afternoon every couple of Months with some Coke Zero, Popcorn, and good company, throwing in the BluRay of this and just blocking out the harsh realities of the world. This will be in my top ten of 2016. Support with a visit to a cinema or buy the DVD/BluRay.
Director: Taika Waititi
Writers: Taika Waititi, Barry Crump
Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata