"This wonderful comedy is full of laugh out loud moments and should leave you with a smile on your face"
Taika Waititi is going to be a very well-known director once his first major Hollywood film Thor: Ragnarok is released in 2017, but he’s already established himself firmly in the indie market with hit films such as Boy and What We Do in the Shadows, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople is just as smart and funny as those efforts.
The adventure comedy-drama stars Julian Dennison, a relative newcomer with only two other film credits, who is certainly one to keep an eye out for as he makes his mark here as a loveable comedic actor who can hold his own against Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill, who he is paired with for most of the movie.
Dennison plays foster kid Ricky Baker who has been relocated to the New Zealand bush from the city due to his bad behaviour. He lives in the middle of nowhere with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her husband Hec (Neill). When Bella suddenly passes away, Hec has no interest in raising the boy and he must be rehoused again by child services, so Ricky runs away into the surrounding forest. Hec tracks him down but an injury causes their journey back to take much longer, and during this time, child services are convinced Ricky has been abducted by his ‘pervert’ parent and a manhunt ensues.
Hec is reticent and grouchy and pretends he doesn’t care for Ricky when he truly does, while Ricky is very chatty, tries to be ‘gangster’ and is just generally annoying, but the pair have to put their differences aside to outsmart their pursuers. This clash of personalities is hilarious and wonderful, not to mention all of Dennison’s funny facial expressions, dance moves and gangster talk. There are also several supporting characters who provide great comedy within a short appearance, such as Waititi himself as a preacher, Rhys Darby as Psycho Sam and Rachel House as the lead social worker on the case.
Waititi has written such an uplifting and charming script with whip-smart humour and created memorable characters, especially Psycho Sam, who steals his scenes without question. I laughed so hard at some of his jokes I missed some of the others!
The film is set in the New Zealand wilderness so it predictably looks gorgeous, with sweeping vistas of lush forest. The duo face the harsh realities of bush living and bump into some odd characters along the way and you can feel the police closing in on them as the film goes on; yet because it’s so delightful you know everything will be OK so it doesn’t feel too tense.
Neill and Dennison have fantastic chemistry and banter, following their forest-living antics was a joy and the final showdown is on a much greater and impressive scale than I would have predicted! The whole thing made me feel happy. This comedy is full of laugh out loud moments and should leave you with a smile on your face.