I’ve been so anxious to see Hunt For The Wilderpeople that I’m worried my expectations are far too high. Fingers crossed that writer/director Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Boy) and the venerable Sam Neil hit it out of the park.
On my press comment card for Hunt For The Wilderpeople, I simply wrote: “Did my heart just melt? Yes.” That’s because it had, in fact, just melted. Even as I sit here now, a few days after my screening, I still get all mushy just thinking about the film. It’s centered around Ricky (a perfectly cast Julian Dennison), a boy with a troubled past who is shipped out to the New Zealand “bush” for one more shot with a foster family before he gets planted in a juvenile prison. There he meets the very standoffish Hec (a perfectly cast Sam Neil) and – due to a handful of unexpected hiccups – it’s not long before the two find themselves deep in the wilderness on an adventure that forever changes both of them. As you’ve probably already guessed, the “changes” consist of coming of age while a mix of clever jokes and tragic things happen. Be prepared for a full on dramedy, friends.
By the way, I had a hunch going in that it would be a Wes Anderson-esque affair, and it did turn out to be a film that feels rather influenced by the famed auteur. I will say this though, I never felt as though writer/director Taika Waititi was deliberately trying to copy him. It’s more the tone of the film that comes off as particularly familiar. In the end though, you won’t really care, because you’ll be too busy having your pants charmed off of you.
Please go see Hunt For The Wilderpeople immediately.
One Last Thought:
I’m a bit perplexed as to what should be expected from Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. I love the guy, but he’s an odd choice for that gig. Here’s hoping he nails it and ends the reign of decidedly average Thor entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.