Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
At the beginning of the year I wrote an article sharing my "Top 5 Movies of 2015". Among the films I selected was a brilliant Horror Comedy from New Zealand called "What We Do in the Shadows". It focused on a group Vampires living together in modern day Wellington, NZ and the obstacles they face in trying to exist in a contemporary world. So when I heard that one of the film's Co-Director/Writer/Star, Taika Waititi, had his own film, this time a family comedy, releasing this year I knew that just I had to see it. So does this newest import from New Zealand stack up to my high expectations? Lets dive right in and find out!
Ricky is a troubled kid who has been bouncing around from one foster family to another. His final hope it seems is to get along with his new care givers Bella and her gruff husband Hector who live out in the mountains and countryside of New Zealand. When Ricky decides to go on the run rather then return to the foster system, a nationwide manhunt is put into motion to find him and Hector who also gets caught up in Ricky's escape.
I'm happy to report that Waititi has done it again! He's delivered another smart, funny, and utterly entertaining movie but on top of all that this movie has an immense heart. Julian Dennison's acting debut as Ricky is simply perfection and Sam Neill is the best he's ever been as the curmudgeonly Hector. I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record but once again 2016 has in my opinion delivered, along with Kubo and the Two Strings and Pete's Dragon, another one of the best family films of all time. Whats stranger then that though is that it deals with the same themes that run throughout the other two films: growing up, loss, and what family truly means. This years "Top 5" list is gonna be a tough one.
Triva from IMDB for Hunt for the Wilderpeople:
In the birthday scene, the cast and crew filmed ten takes singing the normal "Happy Birthday" song before finding out they didn't have the rights to use it. So the song "Ricky Baker, It's your Birthday" was created on the spot by the actors.
The film was the first local feature to gross more than NZ$1 million in its opening weekend at the New Zealand box office.
The fourth film directed by Taika Waititi to premiere at Sundance Festival, after Eagle Vs Shark, Boy and What We Do In The Shadows, which all won critical acclaim.