• Guy Jeffries

Hunt for the Wilderpeople Review


Director: Taika Waititi

Starring: Julian Dennison, Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley, Rhys Darby.

New Zealand's acclaimed director, Taika Waititi does an adaptation of Barry Crump's novel, Wild Pork and Watercress, about a thirteen year old, rebellious, unashamed, wannabe-gangster, Ricky Baker getting fostered by an isolated, peculiar couple living out in the kiwi bush.

Ricky, played by a chubby Julian Dennison is simply amazing, it's impossible to dislike the kid as you witness his attempts to both escape and connect with his new foster parents, the smothering, eccentric, warm-hearted Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and cold, distant, do-not-disturb Hec. (Sam Neill)

Events are set in motion and without giving anything away, Hec and Ricky inadvertently end up as fugitives and go on the run in the bush, forming an unlikely bond. They meet an assortment of quirky characters each blossoming hilarious moments. Especially Rhys Darby playing Psycho Sam the Bush Man who I recognised from The Boat That Rocked as Angus Nutsford. Quite similar to the type of characters and wit you should find in a Wes Anderson film or a live action Studio Ghibli film.

It's extremely refreshing when a comedy allows facial expressions of shock and frustration tell the story and release some of the best laughs. But it's not all laughs and the emotional elements are touching, sharp and incredibly heart-warming, though you're not left to wallow in sadness long before they're back on the run with the stubborn social services matron, Paula, hot on their trail, played by Waititi regular Rachel House.

The soundtrack and score is mixed, but so superbly well, from enchanting harmonics to eighties synths credited to a trio better known as Moniker, a dance/trance group.

It's a film certainly for my era loaded with movie references from the eighties that some younger viewers might not fully appreciate, though Ricky expresses an extensive knowledge of thug-culture naming his dog Tupac. The film certainly brought back fond memories of films like Thelma & Louise and Secondhand Lions.

It's comedy genius that's delightful on a grand scale, beautifully shot with some extraordinary scenes. It's cleverly edited, brilliantly scripted and perfectly paced for 101mins of running time. One of those perfect films you can watch over and over again.

Running Time: 9

The Cast: 10

Performance: 9

Direction: 9

Story: 10

Script: 9

Creativity: 9

Soundtrack: 9

Job Description: 10

The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being such a refreshing, heart-felt, almost bittersweet comedy.

94% 9/10

#TaikaWaititi #JulianDennison #RimaTeWiata #RachelHouse #OscarKightley #RhysDarby #BarryCrump #Moniker #SamNeill