‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ – Film Review

A little bit Rambo, a little bit The Goonies, and as good a time as you can ever hope to have in the cinema

This adorable comedy is just the sort of directorial triumph that you’d expect to one day send its maker on to huge things. That’s already happened for Taika Waititi who, off the strength of his work on vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows and this, is currently calling the shots on Marvel’s massive Thor sequel Thor: Ragnarok. He deserves every piece of his success because Hunt For The Wilderpeople is about as good a time as you can ever hope to have in the cinema.

When we meet Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), an overweight, surly foster kid, we’re told he’s a ‘bad egg’. Child services have been keeping close tabs on him due to such unforgiveable atrocities as ‘kicking things, throwing things, loitering’. This dangerous criminal nature means nobody wants him, except for Bella (Rima Te Wiata), a woman with a heart that’s kind but not so strong. Ricky’s happiness is short-lived and a series of unfortunate events put him on the run through the woods with Hec (Sam Neill), Bella’s curmudgeonly husband, pursued by child services, the police and an assortment of locals. It’s a little bit Rambo and a little bit The Goonies, but with a low-key, doofus-y charm all of its own. Waititi has a confident command of his own world. It’s full of whimsy but he gives it some bite, largely with a fiercely downbeat Hec.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople is a strange film. It doesn’t really fit comfortably into any particular genre but straddles fantasy and reality, comedy and tragedy, sense and nonsense. Just do yourself a favour and see it.