Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★

"Hey Taika, it's your cousin Marvin! You know that mash-up of Moonrise Kingdom and Rambo you've been wanting to make? Well, just take a look at this..."

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an utter joy from start to finish. The movie absolutely nails its comedic sensibility perfectly; it is quirky without being irritating and perfects the dry, surrealist humour even better than Waititi's previous effort, the much lauded What We Do in the Shadows. It is certainly a step up from the idiosyncratic Sundance-inflected indie comedies he made a name for himself making, that possessed an annoying twee quality that made them entirely insufferable. Here, genuinely likeable and relatable characters help anchor what had every right to be his most eye-gougingly quirky effort to date. He grounds all the action in reality, even if that reality appears to be a New Zealand reimagined by Wes Anderson.

Even more impressive is that this is a family movie with mature emotional themes. It is a stealth tearjerker; wearing out your splitting sides with deadpan pop-culture literate one liners, only to reveal a vast emotional depth beneath. The performances across the board are phenomenal, making every last incidental character that exists in this heightened reality feel every bit as fully formed as ones you'd find in a social realist movie. I don't want to go into specifics, as this is a film whose charm lies in knowing very little before watching. Heck, this is a movie so good, I don't know why I'm bothering to write a review. It left me with such a wide smile on my face, it pretty much cut down any criticism I would have planned to give.

I never thought I'd say this, but after seeing what Waititi has done with a textbook family movie, I'm excited to see what he's done with the next Thor movie. He's turned me, a Marvel sceptic, into a nerdy anticipator of a franchise I don't even enjoy- THAT is how good Hunt for the WIlderpeople is.

Alistair Ryder liked these reviews