Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Sorry it’s been a long time since I gave an actual review. DON’T MIND ME! 2017 I will try to be different!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
 Dir. Taika Waititi
 Writ. Taika Waititi
 Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison
 Rated PG-13
 101 mins.
 Comedy, Adventure
 IMDB 7.9

I have to start with saying, Happy 2017! Hopefully this year will be better for film than 2016, but 2016 ended WELL for me, because this was one of the last films I squeaked in on the 31st and WOW it was great! If you saw my Top 10 Films of 2016, you noticed this was at #4, and I honestly just loved this movie. So, let’s just dive in!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an utterly charming and adorable film about a troubled boy named Ricky who has been shuffled around from foster home to foster home for all his life, and though his caseworker seems to think he’s a lost cause, when he arrives at his newest foster home, in a farm up in the mountains, it takes almost no time for him to settle into a happy existence with his new foster parents, who he calls ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’, Bella and Hec. After a tragic occurrence, social services are coming to take Ricky away to a new home, so he decides that, with his new dog Tupac, he’s going to run away into the bush. When Hec goes after him and then gets injured so they have to camp out for a while, social services determine that Ricky has been kidnapped by Hec and thus starts a five-month adventure for Ricky and Hec, running from the law and gaining tons of fans along the way.

This movie is honestly one of those ‘wholesome adventure’ films I’d put right up there with something like The Goonies, because it’s an actual journey that is the catalyst for a personal, and internal journey for the characters involved. Not only do you have the charming, hilarious, and adorable Ricky (Julian Dennison) undergoing a personal journey to find out who he really is after a lifetime of having nobody to guide him on his way, but you also have Hec (Sam Neill) undergoing a personal journey to learn to be more human through his relationship with Ricky. It’s such a wonderfully woven film about finding family and developing relationships through a physical adventure together.

The themes in this film are so real and serious and yet it doesn’t come off as the usual arse-numbingly dull ‘coming of age’ story (and it’s not really), because all throughout the movie there’s so much over the top comedy that seems unrealistic but is interwoven in a way that’s not only palatable, but absolutely perfect to balance the film. Most notably among the almost ridiculous comedy characters are the social worker, Paula (Rachel house), and Psycho Sam (Rhys Darby). Both characters are mental but so fun and funny that you don’t care it’s insane. The entire adventure is just so charming and lovable, much like Ricky, and I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not smile your head off during most of it.

The most comparable film to this that I saw all last year was Sing Street and even it didn’t hold a candle to the charm of this film. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one I’ll be wanting to come back to whenever I feel down in the future, I’m absolutely certain.

My Rating: 9/10

About J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.
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