Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★★

"That was my haiku about maggots. It's called 'Maggots.'"

Magical, charming and incredibly enjoyable, 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' has been on my list for a while now and I'm upset that it took me this long to get around to it. Sam Neill and Julian Dennison playfully juggle stealing the show here; their time together on screen is ribbing and hilarious, the chemistry shared immediately striking a playful spark as the two work as one to survive, explore, and venture further into the bush in their endeavors. As entertaining as it is, the real standout aspect here for me is Dennison's Ricky Baker - he's at times ornery without being rude, comical without being foul and impossible not to love.

Not having much experience with New Zealand or its cinema, it's a beautiful locale to experience in a backwoods, middle-of-nowhere sort of way, heightened by the exciting antics the pair get into and encounters with nature and animals (bonus points go to the lovely, almost Wes Anderson-esque montage sequence featuring the timeless 'Sinnerman' by Nina Simone). I also loved the blossoming relationship between Hec and Ricky - it develops strongly as the two gain a higher appreciation and esteem for one another, but the final moments the two share are well telegraphed and a proper, respectful ending for both - and the audience, as well.

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