Ricky is a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues, and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive.
ActorsStarring: Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Julian Dennison, Rachel House, Oscar Kightley, Rhys Darby, Cohen Holloway, Mike Minogue, Stan Walker, Hamish Parkinson, Yvette Parsons, Lloyd Scott, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Troy Kingi, Taika Waititi, Selena Wolfe, Mabelle Dennison, Sonia Spyve, Timothy Herbert, Stu Giles, Selina Woulfe, Tuss, Finn
The tagline ‘Nature just got gangster’ refers to Ricky Baker who gets sent off to live on a farm as his last chance before being sent to juvie prison. We meet Ricky (Julian Dennison) when his case worker takes him to live with new foster parents – ‘aunty’ Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and ‘uncle’ Hector (Sam Neill); Bella is the patient one with boundless love for the little boy and Hec is the grumpy one who hates the world and everyone in it. Despite his case worker’s best efforts to paint him as a Real Bad Egg, it is clear that Ricky isn’t nearly as gangsta as he would like to be, but then again, he actually doesn’t really want to be as gangsta as he’d like to think he does. Just as it appears Ricky may sort of be settling in, things go wrong and Hec and Ricky end up on the run together through the New Zealand wilderness…
Hunt for the Wilderpeople at the surface may appear not to shy away from a few cliches; the set-up and the big plotlines are not exactly new, and some may even say that it borrows quite a bit from Pixar’s UP. But do not fear: the movie was written and directed by Taika Waititi (of What We Do in the Shadows amongst others) and it definitely has its own style.
Waititi himself only plays a small, but very funny, cameo as the minister, but his touch is thankfully very clearly present all throughout the movie. The chemistry between Julian Dennison and Sam Neill really works, the humour is dry and plentiful, the New Zealand imagery is beautiful as always, and the soundtrack is very fitting. And you certainly wouldn’t hear any of Ricky’s haiku in a Pixar movie… A recommended watch, with or without kids; a movie with its own charm.
Waititi’s next endeavour takes place in the Marvel Universe as he directs Thor 3: Ragnarok. It’d be interesting to see if he can bring some of his personality to the Avenger’s franchise, as it could do with a bit of a shake-up…