Hunt for the Wilderpeople is another Taika Waititi film that is so charming and funny. It may be my favorite film of his.
The film revolves around a young boy named Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a delinquent foster child who wants to be a gangster and writes haiku’s. When his new foster mom, “Aunt” Bella (Rima Te Wiata) unexpectedly dies, Ricky goes off into the New Zealand wilderness so he doesn’t have to been taken back by social services. His foster dad, “Uncle” Hector (Sam Neill from Jurassic Park), goes after him and the police mistake that for kidnapping and a manhunt ensues to find both Ricky and Hector, who hide out in the woods to avoid getting captured.
Sam Niell does such a great job as Uncle Hector, the grumpy old man character, who is forced to look after this kid who is so different from him. Julian Dennison is also amazing and so hilarious as Ricky. A total lost (figuratively and literally) but lovable kid who just wants to be part of a family. The dynamic between Niell and Dennison is electric and it’s the main force that keeps you invested in the movie. Taika also does such a great job of directing here as he is able to get great comedic performances from his actors, keep steady pacing of the film, and have his own quirky, unique sense of humor riddled throughout the film.
As for negatives, I think my main problem lies in the third act when a car chase sequence breaks out and it feels unrealistic, at least in my opinion. And the social worker, Paula (Rachel House), does feel a bit cartoony at times.
Otherwise this movie is just a joy to watch and I give it an A.