Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family.
Worlds collide as a young rebellious barely-teen, raised on hip-hop and ‘gangsta’ speak, meets an old curmudgeon wilderness man. This is a story that forces these two polar opposites together, and they must learn to cooperate as they evade the authorities.
Often funny, sometimes poignant, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a pleasant way to kill a hundred minutes. It’s well written and directed, and delivers one of the best performances I’ve seen from Sam Neill in a long time. As these two loners become an unlikely family, I was invested in their journey and enjoyed the outcome.
This is a story told in chapters, and each one moves the film in an interesting direction. The kid, Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a touch obnoxious at the beginning (which is justified considering his history) but I was happy to see his character develop quickly. He goes from brat, to funny sidekick in a relatively short period of time and the movie is better for it.
I was pleasantly entertained, but not really moved. I was hoping for more of an emotional connection between the characters, and perhaps more personal growth. Taken as is, this is a decent film but not a memorable one. Another solid piece of work from Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows), but not something I ever need to see again.