Hunt for the Wilderpeople

July 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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This film reminded me of the little foreign gems we used to see in the 90s, like “Waking Ned Devine,” “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “The Full Monty.” These are gentle comedies that live in a vaguely magical world, where disparate people come together, form a bond and get changed in the process, where nothing truly terrible ever happens and everything works out in the end. We see fewer of these films today; it seems like most comedy now is self-referential and deeply cynical. Here, there is nothing remotely cynical. This film is an easy delight from start to finish. Taking place in rural New Zealand, the story follows Ricky (relative newcomer, Julian Dennison), a 13-year-old foster boy left with a cantankerous farmer, Hec (Sam O’Neill from the “Jurassic Park” series) and his wife. Through a wholly unbelievable set of circumstances, Ricky and Hec find themselves hiding in 100 hectares of New Zealand bush from the absurdly incompetent police and dozens of others looking for them. Director/co-writer Taika Waititi made the indie film “What We Do In The Shadows” that was my least favorite film last year. But, where I thought that film was too pleased with itself to be funny, this one was utterly charming. Waititi knows how to make the most of his stars. Dennison is delightful as the young, guarded smart-ass and O’Neill plays the perfect foil for Ricky’s humor. Rachel House is also a joy to watch as the ridiculous social worker on a manhunt for Ricky. Waititi is currently directing the newest “Thor” movie and I will be curious to see what he does with a story as somber as that one. This one is anything but somber. The story moves along at a swift pace and the jokes are quick and light. There is nothing remotely realistic about his adventure or how it ends but nobody cares. This film is good, silly, lighthearted fun. You will laugh the whole time and wish we lived in a world as simple as Ricky’s.


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