Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★

At the start of this comic fable, Ricky is a rowdy sub-teener, a ward of the state who has failed in previous foster homes. Sulking, he's brought to a new home by a tyrannical social worker. His new foster mom Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her lay-about husband Hector (a crusty Sam Neill), are so nurturing that Ricky starts to come around when Bella suddenly dies and Ricky and Hector are forced by circumstances to head into the New Zealand bush to avoid Ricky's being sent off to a borstal institution. That is the set-up for a totally unlikely story of two weirdly mismatched fugitives evading capture in the wilds. There is genuine humor in the script, and the director has a real feel for the characters and the setting (Ricky was played by roly-poly young actor Julian Dennison who delivers a classic smart-aleck performance of wit beyond his age.) But ultimately as much as I enjoyed the journey, I had trouble believing in any of the story.