Filled with sarcasm, jokes, and puns, each worse that the last, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a movie anyone can enjoy.
Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is the foster kid who doesn’t fit in. All his life, he’s been bounced from house to house, only to continuously get into some kind of trouble. As a last ditch effort, his case worker sends him to live with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) on her farm. At first it’s a big change for Ricky; there’s nowhere to get into trouble, and Bella’s husband Hec (Sam Neill) doesn’t seem very interested in him.
A very big theme throughout the film seems to be that there are lots of people who don’t care about foster kids. It’s something Ricky has come to understand and expect in his 13 years. Until he finally finds a home with Bella. Small gestures and constant effort on Bella’s part start to pay off. It’s both heartening and tragic to see how far a little kindness can go to changing one kid’s outlook on the world.
Unfortunately, it seems that even good things can’t always last. With Bella’s sudden passing, Ricky fears he will be lost once again in the foster system. Not wanting that to happen, he takes off into the bush. Knowing that a city kid like Ricky won’t survive long on his own, Hec goes after him only to be injured upon tracking the kid down. As so the story really begins. After spending a few weeks camping out to allow Hec’s leg to heal, the pair start their return to civilization to find that they have been the focus of a massive manhunt. From here, the movie picks up speed as Ricky and Hec continue to evade the authorities.
Director Taika Waititi does a wonderful job, covering all facets of Ricky’s story. Although the surface of the film is amusing in a way that is designed to make both children and adults laugh, Sam Neill’s character, Hec, is used very well in allowing the more mature members of the audience to see the real issues. Throw all that into the mixing pot with the beautiful scenery that is the New Zealand bush, and you have movie that is both intellectually entertaining and visually pleasing. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a definite must see.