Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★½

I wanted to like this one more than I did. I really liked the humor in Taika Waititi's previous film, What We Do In The Shadows, but it doesn't work nearly as well here. My issue with the film was that there were a lot of strong moments throughout (the boar scene, for example), but they never added up to anything. It's so scattershot in it's approach, both literally and visually that I never quite knew what it was trying to be.

The action is fresh and covered quite adequately (this is probably why he got the Thor gig), but feel completely unlike the "indie" tone that the film carries otherwise. It tries to be a mix of Edgar Wright with the occasional fast-cut sequences to ramp up intensity and Wes Anderson with it's quirky situations and zooms, but it ends up paling in comparison. It wants to be a coming-of-age story that simultaneously feels "grounded" while juggling ridiculous caricatures (the Child Services lady was unbearable) and it just doesn't work.

Like I said, there are a lot of good moments in this film and Sam Neill is solid here, but it's honestly just a mess. The story jumps around a lot and tries to use chapters and it's "adventurous" angle to mask it, but it just didn't work for me. The relationships feel oddly thin, the laughs aren't as strong as they should be, and the mix of sharply contrasting styles falls flat in the end. You can tell Waititi is a promising filmmaker, and while the film has some admirable attributes, it doesn't come together in the end like it should.

Austin liked this review