Based on Barry Crump’s 1986 book Wild Pork and Watercress, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is New Zealand-born director Taika Waititi’s latest wonderfully unique feature.
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 directed himself in substantial roles in his previous outings, showcasing impressive 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, with engaging newcomer Dennison more than holding his own with the adult cast.
The film isn’t quite the oddity of Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark, neither does it pack the emotional punch of Boy or reach the comedic heights of What We Do in the Shadows. However, Hunt for the Wilderpeople remains thoroughly entertaining and Waititi’s most accessible outing to date.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an authentically quirky, warm and amusing film from a truly individual film-maker. Let’s just hope powerhouse Marvel allows Taika Waititi to really sink his teeth into their universe when he tackles Thor: Ragnarok.