Hunt for the Wilderpeople might have been out for a while now, but I just recently discovered it on Netflix. Foster kids have it hard enough being moved from one family to another, but when juvenile delinquent, Ricky Baker meets with his new foster parents, Hec and Bella, a great adventure begins.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a 2016 New Zealand comedy adventure film. Written and directed by Taika Waititi and based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress, the film stars Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House and Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne.
The film is presented in chapters. Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a foster child who has lived in too many foster homes to count. He is smart but distrusts everyone. We only know that his mother abandoned him after he was born. The social worker handling Ricky’s case is a no-nonsense-by the book welfare worker. Paula (Rachel House) drops Ricky off at a farm owned by Bella and Hec Faulkner. While Bella (Rima Te Wiata) is a fun loving and compassionate woman, her hubby Hec (Sam Neill) is silent and distant to the boy. Over time, Ricky learns to love Bella and tolerate Hec. You can’t help but fall in love with Bella. She is the foster mother that all abandoned children should have the fortune to know. Bella is wacky fun to watch, and even when Ricky runs away a few times, she only offers encouragement and support.
I love any film that Sam Neill is in, but in this film, Sam Neill is at his best. His character may be cantankerous and gruff, but Hec takes time to teach Ricky how to hunt, and even gives the boy a dog on his 13th birthday. Everything is peachy fine until Bella suddenly dies.
The first time I saw Julian Dennison in a film was in The Christmas Chronicles 2. Julian Dennison is a child actor who can definitely stand his ground with the amazing Sam Neill. Even though the “by the book” Paula portrays Ricky as a born criminal, the boy is anything but. Ricky is a smart kid who enjoys writing Haikus and listening to music, and all he wants, is what every child wants…a family. With the death of Bella, Paula informs Hec that because of his prison record, he will not be permitted to keep the boy. Unwilling to be put in a juvie center, Ricky takes his camping stuff and Bella’s ashes and runs away.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople could have been one of those boring adventure films where the child star outsmarts and embarrasses the adults in the film, but it isn’t. This film is a well-written and compassionate adventure film. I am purposely not giving the ending away because I really do want you to watch this film.
The other thing that sold me on this film was the director, Taika Waititi. I love his work, and if you haven’t seen “What We Do in the Shadows”, then you must do so right after watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It is a film centered around a vampire’s documentary and it is one of the funniest films about the undead that I have ever seen. So there, I just gave you two films to watch and enjoy. Let me know what you think