Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★½

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There are only a few movies that invoke this type of feeling. It’s a mixture of joy/enthusiasm that is rarely captured. The fact that Taika was able to do this movie in the midst of his other films, and silently crush it, is awesome. I say silently because this is the one that is rarely brought up out of his filmography, but it’s debatable that it is his best. He is so consistent as a filmmaker; it’s difficult to give the title of best to one of his movies. I would award this as his “most underrated” for sure. A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. Sam Neill comes in to crush the character of Hec. Julian Dennison explodes into the movie-world to bring us one of the more memorable Taika characters in Ricky. The cast is exquisite, but it’s the heartfelt story surrounding the upbringing of Ricky that will leave you wanting more.

While it isn’t as pure of a comedy as his breakout film, it is close to being on that level of humor for me. Just the interactions between the side-characters are so delicately written and hilarious. At the center of all of his films is the heart, and it’s possibly just as strong here as we have ever seen it. It all comes down to the relationship between a boy and his “uncle.” Sure, the perception from the outside world is not great, but we see the care they show one another. It’s also incredibly sad. He masks that heart with humor (the funeral scene), but at its core there is much more than meets the eye. There’s always something more when he directs a film, and it’s hard to see this movie working under anyone else’s direction. The pure showcase of wit within the dialogue is arguably the best from that year. Ricky Baker is a gangster, and the world knows it.

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