I have been a fan of Taika Waititi and his work over the last few years. What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, and Jojo Rabbit are three of the great films that I found remarkably entertaining and touching. However, there was always one film missing from the movies I have watched. Today, I filled that gap by watching Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
In New Zealand, troublesome foster kid Ricky (Julian Dennison), who had been pulled out of several foster home, is dropped off with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill), an older couple who live just outside of the bush. Ricky was withdrawn and protective of himself and did not want to get too close. However, Bella won the boy over with her kindness. Sadly, she dies suddenly.
When it sounded like the child service agent Paula (Rachel House), who was over the top, was coming back to take Ricky away, he ran away into the bush. Hec went to find him but hurt his ankle. The two of them stayed in the bush as Hec’s ankle imporved.
The social services arrive and start a nationwide search for the pair of them.
This movie is great. It is funny, beautifully emotional, and poignant as can be. You can see how Waititi will create a film like Jojo Rabbit.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople has so much ridiculousness going on around it, but the whole thing is anchored by the relationship between Ricky and Hec, and it is not a relationship that is typical. It is shaky as both individuals have lived lives that prevented them from truly connection with others. They were brought together by Bella, and, when she was gone, left them floundering. The social services, led by Paula, the police, the hunters who kept being involved, were so unrealistic, but you buy it immediately because of the strength at the core of the pairing of Ricky and Hec.
You can see the beginning of Taika Waititi’s own little band of actors that he will be dipping into as his movies continue. Rachel House appears in Thor: Ragnarok. Taika himself is here, as he is in his other films. Rhys Darby was Anton in What We Do In The Shadows. Mike Minogue had a cameo in that film too. It is starting to feel like Wes Anderson, who has a group of regular actors to appear in his roles in his films.
Julian Dennison would go from here to be Firefist in Deadpool 2. He was a great find here as he and Sam Neill have amazing chemistry and make for the heart of this movie.
I am very happy that I took the time to watch this film. It only makes me even more of a fan of Taika Waititi’s work. Knowing he is working on the next Thor movie and a future Star Wars film really provides me with a lot of hope and excitement.