Rental Pick: Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016)

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As I’ve mentioned in this post, I absolutely LOVE the vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows. It’s also written and directed by Taika Waititi, who’s been quite a force to be reckoned with as a filmmaker, so I’m glad he’s getting noticed by Hollywood!

Right from the opening scene when the 13-year-old Ricky is dropped off by child welfare services at his new foster home in a remote farm, the movie immediately grabbed me. Though his foster mom Bella (Rima Te Wiata) welcomes him with open arms, her cantankerous husband Hec makes sure he wants to be left alone. Julian Dennison is quite a revelation as Ricky, a juvenile delinquent I actually wish I could adopt! He makes quite an unlikely duo with Sam Neill‘s Hec, and their journey through NZ wilderness is a hilarious yet poignant adventure I could watch over and over.
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I absolutely enjoy the banter between ‘uncle’ Hec and Ricky throughout, as they went on the run from police who thought Ricky had been kidnapped. One of the funniest bits was when they encountered some hunters and somehow Ricky made it sound like he’s been molested. It’s truly a lot of fun to witness the duo’s journey, both physically and emotionally, as they grow to enjoy each other’s company. Waititi, who made a wacky cameo as a minister, has a real gift for storytelling and witty dialog. I love these types of comedies. It’s uproariously funny but also has a huge heart, not relying on crude gags masquerading as *comedy* Hollywood churn out these days.

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The supporting cast is quite a hoot as well. The ruthless child welfare officer Paula (Rachel House) and her rather useless policeman partner Andy (Oscar Kightley) are hot on Hec and Ricky’s tail. There’s a hilarious moment when Paula and Ricky faced off each other in the woods…

Paula: Yeah, and I’ll never stop chasing you – I’m relentless, I’m like the Terminator.

Ricky Baker: I’m more like the Terminator than you!

Paula: I said it first, you’re more like Sarah Connor, and in the first movie too, before she could do chin-ups.

I love the pop culture joke and it doesn’t feel stale. There’s also that bit about The Lord of the Rings that made me laugh so hard. I was hoping Waititi would include LOTR given that it was also shot primarily in New Zealand. Though perhaps not as quotable as What We Do In The Shadows that Waititi co-wrote, there are plenty of great, funny lines here that still made me chuckle every time I remember them. Dennison is definitely one of my favorite talent discoveries of the year and I hope this kid gets other prominent roles in the future. Neill is a talented veteran actor, and his character here reminds me of Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park as kids somehow flock to him despite his grumpy demeanor.

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The amazing scenery would certainly make you want to book your next trip to NZ pronto! This movie could practically doubles as a NZ tourism video. The third act gets over the top a bit, especially when the manhunt became a full-on ‘war.’ Fortunately it never got off the rails even as the action escalated to a rather bombastic finale. The ending is a sweet one, albeit a tad predictable. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and it made me anticipate THOR: Ragnarok a whole lot more because Waititi is directing it!

I rarely give a full score in my reviews, but this movie is pretty much perfect. As I mentioned in my Golden Globes post, it’s ridiculous this movie wasn’t nominated for Best Comedy! It’s not just the funniest film of the year, but it ranks as one of the best comedies of all time.

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Have you seen this movie? I’d love to hear what you think!

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28 thoughts on “Rental Pick: Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016)

  1. Oh, man, I HAVE to check this out. I just saw What We Do in the Shadows a few months ago and it was hilarious, so I’m really looking forward to seeing more of his work!

  2. I forgot about ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ thanks for the reminder! I enjoyed Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It was nice to see Sam Neil performing well; this film reminded me Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonlight Kingdom’ — elements of it — wacky chase scenes, absurd, dark comedy….

    1. Yeah it certainly has touches of Wes Anderson, but I think Taika has his own unique style. Oh you should see ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ though it’s perhaps not as emotional as this one, but sooo hilarious!

    1. Hi Ted! It took me a while to finally see it too but it was well worth the wait. Taika is one of my fave directors now, I think the new Thor movie is gonna be a hoot!

  3. Ah, you have watched this! One of the films of the year for me Ruth; such a beautifully observed work about two very different characters bonding over a shared predicament. Loved it. Really enjoyable write-up 🙂

    1. Hey Mark, glad to have you back! Hope you had a great time on your trip.

      Yes this is definitely in my top 3 of the year. Such a great story and the execution is a lot of fun. Wish more people would go see this.

    1. Yeah I think this one has more emotional resonance than What We Do In The Shadows which made it even more memorable. Yeah I really think Thor: Ragnarok could be the best in the franchise!

  4. PrairieGirl

    Just saw this over the weekend and loved it. The humor was very understated, not LOL to me but there’s nothing I didn’t like about this film, totally agree with your review. And you’re right, it’s ridiculous it wasn’t nominated for Best Comedy in the Golden Globes, let’s hope something comes up for the Oscars.

    1. Hey Becky! Glad you saw it and loved it. Unfortunately I don’t think it’ll get anything at Oscars, they don’t usually go for comedies which is too bad because some comedies are GOLD!

      1. indeed, and I’m with you, this is one of the best comedies I have ever seen. Even better than Captain Fantastic, and that was another comedy that was VERY different from the normal crap you refer to that Hollywood churns out

  5. Hells to the yeah Ruth!! With you alllll the way. Did you like the soundtrack? I bought it, its great and varied. Funny you say it practically doubles as a tourism vid, as I plan to travel there soon. Its so close to me, and so beautiful…. it’d be awful to have not seen the place before my time is up

    Dennison really is great huh? I also loved that Terminator reference, and that scene where he manages to make the hunters think he is being molested… hahaha I’m laughing just thinking about it!! I love that he names his dog 2-pac too hehe

    Watiti as the priest was hilarious!!! A great script no doubt

    I’ve seen this three times now, its hard to pick a favourite between this and that Cave doco. Both are incredible and near flawless, but they couldn’t be more different!

    And I actually liked the exaggerated end. Because youth welfare is THAT fucked up down here that it needs something memorable like this, y’know?

    I really loved the part near the end when the ridiculous (but unfortunately, realistic) ‘youth welfare officer’ starts to read his rights, only to be told by that dimwit cop that… “uhh, thats kind of a US thing. And you’re not even a cop!” Haha!! So good, and such a great statement on how some of these supposed welfare workers treat young people who they decide are ‘bag eggs’ and destined to be criminals. It is exaggerated here but its still not far from the truth.

    And full marks from Ruth? Wow, I’m glad you liked this as much as me!!

    1. Hello Jordan! Sorry somehow I thought I had replied to your comment. Man the fact that you live so close to NZ you definitely must visit soon. SO beautiful! This film ticks the boxes of everything you want in a movie, I just love it!

      Yes, I love that bit in the end between the dimwit cop and the youth welfare officer who’s awful but hilarious. This one and Moonlight deserve top marks, you should catch the latter soon, as well.

      P.S. I hope you’re still up for Five for the Fifth. I just sent you an email on it as well.

      1. ah shit I think I thought of my question in a comment on a post somewhere. Shit… it was about favourite cold war era paranoia/thrillers, a la The Conversation, Seconds, and to a more obvious extent, stuff like The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

        I hope i’m not too late!

        whatever email is linked to this wordpress thingy isn’t one I use, if you wanna send me something its dodd dot jordan at gmail dot com

        As for NZ, I’m saving for the trip, can’t wait to go ;D

        1. Hey Jordan! Glad to hear from you, happy New Year mate! Oh ok right, that was your question, so I’ll use that one, that’s a good one!

          Ok I’ll use that dodd[dot]gmail.com from now on. Very cool about saving funds for NZ trip, you gotta let me know when you go ok?

          1. Will do! Hopefully its this year before summer (April/May) or after summer (September). I can’t wait!!! Tho I’m thinking about Bali too…. cos everything will be so cheap there!!!

            I’ve been so bad with keeping up with blogs lately, I’ll have to bring yours up so I see it when I get homer from work

            1. Hey Jordan! I think that’s why Bali is so full of Aussies, I think they probably can live like royalty there w/ Australian dollars! Just don’t go to the Western hotels/restaurants as they’ll jack up the price.

              1. Yeah that is exactly why there are so many of us there haha. I was chatting with my mate, I’m now wondering about NZ… it might be close but everything there will be expensive as hell. Whereas in Bali it’ll cost almost nothing. But NZ looks so good!!…. grrr

  6. Pingback: Bye bye 2016! End of year recap & musings on favorite films we saw this year

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