Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★½

I finally got to see Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the latest film from New Zealand director Taika Waititi. The film is a funny and heartwarming film about a boy in foster care and an older man who learn to live and respect each other out in the New Zealand bush. While not as funny as What We Do in the Shadows due to the film being more a family adventure story, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is still an enjoyable film experience.

We all know the direction the film will be headed in from the very first interaction between the two major characters, but the performances of Julian Dennison as the young Ricky Baker and Sam Neill as his 'uncle' Hector do raise the film into something enjoyable with a believable relationship. Waititi's offbeat Kiwi humor is on full display here, and there are plenty of fun gags with the two main characters as well as some of the supporting cast like Rachel House as a child protective services officer and Rhys Darby as a crazy bushman, I've been a fan of Darby ever since his Flight of the Conchords days.

While Hunt for the Wilderpeople may be a good film, there are some aspects that held it back from greatness for me, the main reason being that I didn't think there was a whole lot of momentum to the film. There are some really great and powerful scenes in this film, but they never feel like they are adding up together into something greater or building on each other. Also, while the characters are supposed to be in the bush for weeks, it never seemed like large amounts of time were elapsing which further hurt the feeling of a lack of momentum.

I did really like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but I just kept seeing ways that the film could have been even better. As it stands however, this is still a fun family adventure film with some genuine laughs and dramatic moments, and worth looking into for those who think they may enjoy this style of a film or who enjoyed Taika Waititi's other works.

Erik [Auk] liked these reviews