Hunt for the Wilderpeople movie review
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is not a perfect movie. At times the story seemed to drag a bit and I couldn’t help but thinking that if the movie were just a bit shorter with maybe a few of them being trimmed back or cut entirely Hunt for the Wilderpeople might have flowed better as a cohesive whole and been a better film.
That being said, I still thought Hunt for the Wilderpeople was pretty great and I’d rank it as one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
Using a lot of the same “goofy” humor used in another great film he co-directed What We Do in the Shadows, writer/director Taika Waititi makes a story that could be really dark and disturbing instead something bright and slightly sweet with Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Here, pre-teen Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a juvenile delinquent in the making and is sent to live with an aunt (Rima Te Wiata) in the country since he’s got no where else to go and the next stop is juvenile jail. He quickly bonds with her but when she unexpectedly dies, Ricky and the aunt’s boyfriend Hec (Sam Neil) take a trip into the “bush” of New Zealand since Hec doesn’t have anywhere else to go either and Ricky doesn’t want to go back to the city. But the authorities think that Hec’s kidnapped Ricky and as the two run deeper and deeper into the forest and spend months on the run Hec finds that he needs Ricky as much and Ricky needs Hec.
I’m not sure that a movie like Hunt for the Wilderpeople could be made in the American movie studio system. There’s lots of talk about characters thinking Hec is molesting Ricky, Hec and Ricky both have guns and shoot them at other people and, shock of shocks, Hec smokes and he smokes around Ricky! All of which is taboo these days in American pop culture and especially in our films. But it’s all these things that we’d never see from American movies — I can hear the studio notes now, “Can’t Ricky and Hec throw stones or chuck sticks at people instead of shooting guns?” — that makes Hunt for the Wilderpeople so much fun to watch. That and Taika Waititi is such an interesting filmmaker with What We Do in the Shadows and his next movie being one of those big-budged American studio films of Thor: Ragnarok due out next year that makes him and his Hunt for the Wilderpeople one to watch.