Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople ★★★★½

A boy and his dog. And his Sam Neill.

Immensely sweet but never syrupy, Taika Waititi delivers a hilarious woodland adventure about a grumpy old man and the precocious child he's responsible for, without ever living down to the rote prospect of that pitch. It goes to some gloriously wild places--like in a decidedly Fury Road-recalling conclusion--but always manages to avoid feeing needlessly excessive or cartoonish. Maybe it's because Waititi's strength as a writer is in building stories from the characters up, so you're never merely anticipating the next set piece or outlandish scenario. You're simply enjoying a briskly paced ride through the bush alongside a pair of charmingly genuine protagonists.

In a word: Majestical.