Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Sam Neil, Jurassic Park, Thor 3

Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016) – Review

If you’ve seen What We Do In The Shadows, you’ll have a sense of what’s in store in Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Taika Waititi’s follow-up packs many of the same off-beat punches and blissful irreverence that endeared his quasi-documentary vampire movie to so many, with the performances in particular bringing such flippant life to the script. But this time he’s also dropped into the bargain a dollop of genuine, heart-warming charm. Hunt For The Wilderpeople is a film that’s as utterly delightful and funny as we could hope for after a particularly bad summer in Hollywood.

In essence, all Waititi has done is drop Thelma & Louise, Up and First Blood into a blender. We open with troubled kid Ricky Baker (the excellent Julian Dennison) being driven to his new foster home in the New Zealand bush. While his new “aunt” is funny and warming (by actually talking to him and literally warming his bed each night with a hot water bottle), his Uncle Hec (Sam Neil) remains disgruntled and unyielding. As one thing leads to another, Ricky and Hec find themselves in the middle of the wilderness being hunted by seemingly the entire NZ police force.

The strength of the film is greater than its tonic effect on a bad year of movies. It does that thing which so few comedies manage any more: it warms the spirit. From beginning to end, the script is sharp with its dialogue and playful with its set-pieces, yet it’s as much to the cast’s credit that it works as Waititi with his pen. The funniest moment in the film is a scene which evokes a memorable moment in The Lord Of The Rings, which on the page may not have looked anything special, but with Dennison’s comedic timing is completely hysterical.

And praise be, these moments become almost too many to count.

A first glance at Marvel hiring Waititi for Thor: Ragnarok might look odd, but it’s really just another cunning piece of scouting from the studio, for Wilderpeople is just a further demonstration of his wickedly understated talents. Rather than worrying about his lack of action experience, they’re looking to the fact that he’s going to bring layers of depth and sophistication (and undoubtedly humour) to their next superhero flick. And really, if Wilderpeople is anything to go by, Thor 3 is going to (Ragna)rock.

Verdict: 

Don’t be surprised if you find a lot of people saying this is their favourite movie of the year. It’s a rare and utterly joyous treat.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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