Taika Waititi’s newest film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, is a charming, adventurous coming of age tale. The What We Do In The Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok director gets deep with hilarious and memorable characters with strong personalities to create another quotable movie. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is filled with heart and unique New Zealand charm.
The film shines with meaningful shots between the panning of the wild bush of New Zealand. Every action is an important element to tell the story of this troubled young boy, Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), and his struggle with emotional processing and acceptance. The film throws him in the wild with his foster uncle, Hector (Sam Neill), as they are hunted by a hilariously unnecessary huge amount of people.
The line between realism and ridiculousness blends so naturally together, it creates a grand scale of adventure while narrowing the focus to the life of this young boy and his relationship with a father figure. It has the feeling of slice-of-life but the scope of The Lord of the Rings.
Though the film is riddled with laugh out loud quips among beautifully colored scenes, it doesn’t shy away from teaching the meaningful realities of life all while showcasing the awe-inspiring greenery of New Zealand.
Immediately the story is comparable to the Disney/Pixar film UP (a crotchety old man, a rotund lovable kid, dogs, exotic birds, and an adventure fueled by loss) but that doesn’t mean that Hunt for the Wilderpeople is unoriginal. The entirety of the film-- the cinematic, the soundtrack, the characters, the dialogue, among other things-- is very fresh due to its indepth yet subtle discussion on human emotion while focusing on the wild. The characters, and thus the actors, are so endearing, even the most minor characters have memorable moments. Rachel House (who plays Paula) is a unique villain that is equally as charming as the main two.
The end of the film comes abruptly where it does feel like there were time or budget constraints, but is forgivable because it fits well with the tone of the film.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an inspiring and heartwarming coming of age story in the realm of About A Boy with the distinct humor familiar in What We Do In The Shadows with "heaps" of wit, charm, and local flavor. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a "skux" film, great for anyone who wants a thoughtful movie with a sense of adventure.