Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★½

Taika Waititi's follow-up to the charming WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a film even more charming. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE takes us on an exciting wilderness adventure with two unlikely characters -- teenage, wannabe gangster Ricky and illiterate woodsman Hec. As with SHADOWS, the beauty of WILDERPEOPLE is its insight about the heart and soul of the misunderstood, who are not just misunderstood by the world around them, but by each other as well. True kinship is hard to find in this world, and when it is, it needs to be embraced fully. Waititi seems to get this completely.

The joy of WILDERPEOPLE is its authentic sense of humor. Waititi's screenplay doesn't push for jokes where there are none. He allows the characters to create the humor as they respond authentically to every situation. For example, one of the best moments in the movie involves Ricky and Hec discovering a cabin in the woods they check out for food and supplies. While scavenging, a group of hunters arrive that recognize them from TV. The hunters immediately assume Hec is a pedophile, and when Ricky starts sharing how Hec "makes me do stuff I don't like," the laughs can't come fast enough. Hec's reactions are riotous. The character-based comedy may not be incredibly aggressive, but it's far more rewarding.