Movie Review : Hunt for the Wilderpeople


Ricky Baker (Dennison) is a foster kid nobody wants so is sent to live in the wilds of New Zealand with ‘Aunty’ Bella (Te Wiata) and ‘Uncle’ Hector (Neill).  When he is handed over by the hard-nosed Child Welfare worker Paula (Hall), we are given a brief rundown of Ricky’s delinquent past. We can all see this so-called bad egg is just a bored kid looking for someone to love him and Bella is looking for a kid to love. Poor Hector is just a cranky old man who simply seems to endure the situation.

When tragedy strikes, Hector decides he wants to go bush for a while. With nowhere else to go, Ricky is not far behind. Suddenly, wires get crossed and the pair are the subject of a nationwide manhunt.

As the pair venture further into the bush, they encounter a myriad of interesting characters from 3 local shooters who want to claim the $10 000 reward, to the conspiracy theorist nut job Psycho Sam (Darby). Yet the relationship between the old man and the teenager is at the heart of this movie but far from being just a zany kid-friendly romp thorough the forest, it evolves into something quite special.


Ricky has never had a real home, never belonged to anybody and knows what awaits him if he is sent back this time. And none of it is good. Hector is also one of society’s outcasts and realises now that, deep down, he shares a kinship with this boy. Hector’s gruff exterior and Ricky’s strutting millennial bravado are both masks they wear to hide their true selves.

This movie is absolutely hilarious from start to finish. From the good guys outwitting the cops to the quirkier characters we meet along the way, the laughs keep on coming. But it also addresses many issues with humour and heart….. loneliness, the desire to belong, family.

Neill shines in this role but it is the young Dennison, who so impressed in the Aussie movie Paper Planes (you can read my review here), who steals the show. With comic timing far beyond his years, Dennison is one to watch for the future.

Waitiki is fast becoming one of my favourite Directors…you can read my review of another of his movies, one of my favourites What We Do in the Shadows here …. and the news he will helm the new Thor movie makes me even more keen for it. I really look for forward to seeing how he directs Hiddleston as Loki, but that’s for another time.

You must see this movie before it finishes it’s run. It’s funny, quirky, warm and wonderful. I cannot recommend it enough

It’s bloody majestical!

5 stars

Love Sue-Ellen xx

Director : Taika Waititi

Starring : Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Oscar Kightley, Rhys Darby, Taika Waititi

Running Time : 101 minutes

Release Date :  In cinemas now

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