Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Sam Neil, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby
Review Author: Tony
It’s almost criminal how long it took me to see this film, but alas, I finally found a showing I could make the other day. Unfortunately Hunt for the Wilderpeople has seen very little release in Ireland and most of the showings have been during working hours. If I hadn’t made the screening for it on Sunday I was going to have to pull a sicky and take a day off work to make it.
What We Do In The Shadows was one of my top ten favourite films of last year and it certainly put Taika Waititi on my radar. Waititi is a master of crafting quirky dialogue and off beat humour. He was unfairly labelled as the New Zealand version of Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) after the release of Eagle Vs Shark, however the comparison soon faded with his next two outings as a Director. The only similarities between the two directors is that I can see is their comedy style could be described as “odd”.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is Waititi’s best film to date, a huge feat considering the quality of What We Do in the Shadows, and also one of the few saving graces of this years film releases. Waititi has superb comic timing and knows just the right amount of time it takes to get to the punchline. Peppered with movie quotes and pop culture references which are mostly played to hilarious effect.
Foster child Ricky is a renegade, “A real bad egg” in the words of his officer Paula. He’s torn through every foster home he’s been sent to and he’s on his final warning. Ricky finds himself in the care of the sweet but straight talking Bella and her salt of the earth, disgruntled husband Hec. Ricky while resistant at first is eventually won over by Bella’s sincerity and kindness. Hec remains as disgruntled as ever. When tragedy strikes Ricky and Hec find themselves stuck in less favourable circumstances where them must begrudgingly band together.
Th films biggest strength is the interactions between its characters. The two leads are phenomenal, the highlight of the film is watching the bond strengthen between these two characters. What starts as pity bickering soon turns to mutual respect and understanding. Veteran Sam Neil plays grumpy old bastard Hec effortlessly, while new comer Julian Dennison is both hilarious and endearing as juvenile Delinquent Ricky. Both are stray in the world, Ricky is on his last warning before he has to go a jevenile detention centre and Hec is an ex-convict who wants nothing to do with the world. It’s truly tragic when they’re sanctuary and home is taken away from them.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople reminds me of a live action version of Disney’s Up, albeit with certainly more crass humour, a wanna be gangsta rappers and a Thelma and Louise relationship between our two protagonists. It’s a mish-mash kind of movie that can be described as an adventure, buddy film played out in a good-natured, out of whack style with a plethora of mad, hilarious supporting characters. While the film is funny throughout, Waititi delivers a healthy dose of poignant moments and some truly heart breaking scenes giving it the crown of one of my favourite films of the year.