Patrick Jensen’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Ninjas! Dire Wolves! Child Welfare!"
I can definitely confirm now that Taika Waititi is among my favorite comedy directors currently working. His work on What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok and now Hunt for the Wilderpeople are all testaments to the growing status he has as a filmmaker in my opinion. Following the exploits of tough reclusive males of different ages, this film was an entertaining romp from start to finish.
First of all, the performances by the young Julian Dennison and the always underappreciated Sam Neill are fantastic. They might have similar mannerisms, but the charm and grit they both add to their characters make both actors stand out wonderfully. It also helps a lot that the dialogue is filled with enough creativity and wit to make me want to follow the progression of their relationship. The cinematography and soundtrack should also be highlighted here, as the majestic shots of the New Zealand wilderness combined with the pop score perfectly complemented the clashing lifestyles of our protagonists, as well as creating a great atmosphere.
In regards to gripes, I will say that this film can feel a bit predictable. While this wasn't a huge problem for me personally, because I enjoyed Ricky and Hec's interactions with each other and the supporting cast, the film did telegraph its direction a bit too obviously at times. Some of the antagonists could feel a bit too useless and one-note, such as the inept cop Andy and Psycho Sam, and their presence felt more than anything like padding.
In conclusion, Hunt for the Wilderpeople was an excellent comedy that took its own spin on parental/male bonding. While I readily admit it might not be for everyone, I sure had an amazing time with it. If you like Taika Waititi's work and have yet to see this one, I highly recommend this one to you.