Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

When problem child Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) – his crimes include kicking stuff, burning stuff and loitering – is relocated to a New Zealand bush farm by somewhat intense social worker Paula (Rachel House), he’s taken under the wing of Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her silently menacing husband Hec (Sam Neill).

Ricky soon warms to Bella and once she’s no-longer around Hec is a much less comfortable parent, and a somewhat bungled attempt at running away soon has the duo stuck in the wilds for a few weeks – just long enough for the authorities (especially Paula) to assume there’s been a kidnapping. What follows is a chase through the wilds as the duo gradually warm to each other while dodging the law for months on end.

Director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows) gives what is basically cosy family fare a quirky, understated strain of comedy that keeps the laughs coming while providing room for the occasional sad or touching moment to provide contrast. It’s the cast that really makes this work: Dennison is hilarious throughout, while Neill is gruffly funny in the straight man role. Together they’re a great double act – if they want to team up again, they’ve sold one ticket already.

Reviewed by Anthony Morris

Screening at the Pivotonian Cinema from June 9 – 22. Visit the website to purchase tickets.