New Zealand writer-director Taika Waititi has never really been on my radar before. But he directed the 2014 cult hit What We Do In the Shadows and is doing the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. So with Hunt for the Wilderpeople, this will be the first experience with him. In this, foster kid Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a trouble making wannabe gangster who ends up with this foster family. He decides to split and go out into the wilderness along with Hec (Sam Neill) going after him. So now this manhunt is being tracked down to catch them.
To my surprise, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one of the best comedies of the year. This was based on Barry Crump’s novel “Wild Pork and Watercress” but it felt so original just watching it. Waititi sure knows how the write an intriguing story to keep it interesting and the way he directs the landscapes of New Zealand was amazing and makes me want to visit there someday.
Julian Dennison was brilliant in his role as this kid who wants to know where his parents are and he loves to read and does haikus. Sam Neill’s best performance since Jurassic Park. He a harden character who just had life bite him hard recently. Both of their characters are polar opposites to where they don’t want to be there either. But you really want to follow along with them hoping everything will patch up in the end and they just have great chemistry between them.
What’s shouldn’t be left out is how funny this was. There was a lot of hilarious moments between Neill and Dennison as well. The music choices in this were amazing too to where it follows the story along. There was even a Lord of the Rings reference in this, which makes sense because this takes place in New Zealand. Waititi is a combination of Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson to where the way it’s shot and edited is really quick. Plus, this reminded me of Moonrise Kingdom. It’s also has a great balance of how it’s a coming-of-age story and how heartfelt it was throughout.
The only problems with this were that the finale was a bit slow trying to reach the conclusion and there was something a certain character said that shouldn’t have made this decision. But besides that, Waititi is really a director to look out for in the future because this is a comedy that really stands out. With a movie like this, it feels nice to have this as a smaller independent film that’s great once in a while.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the definition of offbeat in a great way. This was a funny, fast-paced, and surprisingly deep comedy.