Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Written and directed by Taiki Watiti and based off of Barry Crump’s novel Wild Pork and Watercress, Hunt for the Wilderpeople stars Sam Neill, Julian Dennison and Rima Ta Wiata. The film follows Ricky (Dennison), a young city boy who has been passed through the New Zealand child welfare service program for years because of his bad behavior. He eventually ends up in his latest home, a country townhouse, belonging to his new Aunt Bella and Uncle Hec. Eventually child services decide that it isn’t a safe environment for Ricky and wanst to remove him from the premises. Ricky, in retaliation, runs away, with Uncle Hec in pursuit. Now, with a national manhunt on their hands, the two need to start getting along in order to make it, out of the bush.
I seriously have to give the director a shout out for setting most, if not all, of his films in New Zealand. Firstly because it’s such an underutilized location and secondly because this movie just looks beautiful. There are so many shots of panning scenery that just remind me of the scale for this film as well as provide a great view altogether. With some wonderful music accompanied by the fantastic cinematography, Hunt for the Wilderpeople looks great whenever you pause it. But not only is the landscape pretty and all, the comedy is filmed wonderfully with a heavy influence on the movement of the camera.
Speaking of the comedy, I haven’t genuinely laughed that hard in a while. To go off track here for a moment, Ghostbusters (2016) gave me mild chuckles to a good laugh. Hunt for the Wilderpeople had me dying at almost every single joke. The comedy just felt so natural and was never forced. It was all character driven, and I loved every bit of comedy from this movie.
The two leads really cement this movie as one of my favorite films of the year. Yes it does the ‘two characters eventually like each other over time’ cliché that we’ve seen a million times but really, this one just does it so well. I really have to speak my appreciation for Julian Dennison’s performance. It’s really strange when you have a younger actor be so capable at their craft on screen, but he does it magnificently.
I cannot recommend this film enough to you. Yes, it’s a little weird and a bit cliché at times, but trust me when I say that Hunt for the Wilderpeople, with genuine comedy, wonderful characters, and beautiful direction from Taiki Watiti, is one of my personal favorites of the year.