Based on Barry Crump’s 1986 book Wild Pork and Watercress, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is directed by Taika Waititi, the New Zealand-born talent behind 2010’s heartfelt Boy and 2014’s hilarious What We Do in the Shadows.
After moving from foster home to foster home, orphan Ricky (Julian Dennison), escorted by ruthless child welfare worker Paula (Rachel House), lands at the door of Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). After tragedy strikes, Ricky and Hec go on the run and a national manhunt ensues.
Waititi has impressively directed himself in substantial roles in his previous outings, showcasing incredible range while doing so. Taking a back seat this time (but still making a fleeting appearance as a minister), he leaves the heavy lifting to the rest of the cast, all of whom have delightful chemistry.
Familiar faces Rhys Darby and Rachel House return to Waititi’s work, along with newcomers Julian Dennison, engaging and charming, he more than holds his own with the adult cast. A new partnership has also seemingly begun, with the brilliant Sam Neill set to appear in Waititi’s next film Thor: Ragnarok.
Authentically quirky, warm and comical, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a thoroughly entertaining outing, from a truly individual film-maker. Let’s just hope powerhouse Marvel allows Taika Waititi to really sink his teeth into their universe.