Movie Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

From the moment I saw the trailer the the Adventure/comedy/drama I knew the NZ Indi $4 million dollar production would be a funny family movie. Having had to convince my daughter to come with me, I was wrong. It is HILARIOUS! And all she does now is quoting the movie. I mean constantly. And thanks to the fantastic script most of our insider jokes had an upgrade.

The story is simple.

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a 13 year old disobedient foster kid gets send, as the last straw, to an elderly couple in the bush. Bella, the foster aunty dies shortly after and Hector (Sam Neill), the grumpy, dis-social foster ‘not-even-wanting-to-be-called-uncle’ makes clear he never wanted the boy in the first place and plans to send Ricky back to the services of child welfare.

A desperate Ricky runs away into the hills and uncle Hector follows him soon after, knowing the boy would get lost and be in danger. Having found the hungry boy Hector accidentally falls during a heated argument and breaks his ankle. The injury dooms the two to sit out the healing process in the bush and over a period of six weeks they begin to slowly accept one another. Oblivious to the outside world which thinks Hector has kidnapped the boy, after the ankle’s recovery they come across a WANTED newspaper article in a bush hut and reality sets in. With Hector having history with the law, and Ricky enjoying his one-on-one time with an adult that takes him seriously, the two decide to live the life of gangsters and run. In 5 million hectares of gorgeous wild New Zealand.

Chased for over 5 months by authorities and child welfare (totally exaggerated and hilarious), and glorified by media and the common people, the two bond in never imagined ways and cope with the extreme situation in their own quirky ways.

Special mentions to our favorite moments like

– Ricky sharing his Haiku to express his feelings. We still recite them. Personal favorites are ‘Maggots (like moving rice)’, or ‘Kanye, you Wanker…’.

– The funeral sermon for Aunty Bella where we are all ‘sheep trapped in a maze designed by wolves’, to come across two doors… A heavenly-sounding confectionery door (Doritos, Coke Zero, Fanta, Burger Rings) which turns out to be the ‘non-heavenly’ door, and another rather boring door… The priest is played by none other than the movie’s director Taika Waititi himself, paying tribute to his humor, having also written the screenplay.

– Paula, the child welfare ‘no-child-left-behind’ lady (played by Rachel House) a.k.a. the relentless Terminator and her transgression list of Ricky Bakers (a.k.a. ‘a real bad egg’, a.k.a. ‘Sarah Conner, before she could do chin-ups’) are worth citing (and notice the scenes underlying the list). “Disobedience, stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, defacing stuff, burning stuff, loitering & graffiti – and that’s just the stuff we know about.”

– My daughter has finally a way to express her teenage frustrations with ‘Oh man, I got poop on my Kirks.’

– And the word ‘majestcal’ is now firmly integrated into our vocabulary, slightly modified to describe the large testicles of our male rats, lovingly calling them ‘Majesticles’.

The music is great, the actors are tremendous, the story is human and action driven (not all too realistic, I might throw in), and the script beyond funny.

FOUR Thumbs up from me and my kid. We are still, after 6 months, thoroughly entertained.



Hey, thanks for contacting me. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Have a lovely day, Jolene

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