SXSW Film 2016 Review: HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

I am so happy that I made time for this delightful and charming import from New Zealand.  Hunt for the Wilderpeople stars Sam Neill and Rima Te Wiata as Hector and Bella Faulkner, a childless married couple who decides to take in a foster child.  Julian Dennison stars as Ricky Baker, a rebellious foster child who has yet to find a home that makes him happy and willing to settle down.  Although Hector comes across as a gruff curmudgeon, his wife Bella tries to be a loving and caring foster parent to the hip hop-loving Ricky who begins to enjoy living with them in the country.  When an unexpected turn of events threatens to send Ricky to another home.  He and Uncle Hec decide to run away into the bush.  Their decision makes the national news and has law enforcement officers and reward seekers hot on their trail.

Written and directed by Taika Waititi, this film delivers hilarious comedy, drama, and peril in one highly lovable package.  The film features superb performances by Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, and young newcomer Julian Dennison.  Wakiti’s movie offers much heart and entertainment, though the comedy gets a tad too cartoonish at times.  Still, Hunt for the Wilderpeople exemplifies what a talented writer and director Wakiti is.  I definitely look forward to seeing what he does with his Marvel Studios’ entry Thor: Ragnarok which is due in theaters next year.

 

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