Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Movie Title: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Year Released: 2016

Rated: Not Rated

Runtime: 1h 42min

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Director: Taika Waititi

Writer: Taika Waititi

Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Rhys Darby, Oscar Kightley, Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne

Review: A delinquent boy named Ricky (Julian Dennison) and his outdoorsman foster father Hec (Sam Neill) become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness. When the bush and the authorities pose a common enemy, the two unlikely adventure companions must quickly forge a friendship in order to survive.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a tough film for me to review. I thoroughly enjoyed the message of this film. There is real heart to this movie as Ricky and Hec sort of get thrown into this partnership that neither of them knew that they wanted or needed. A lot of this film focuses on this self-discovery as these two vastly different characters bond over this unique, shared experience. There is a wide array of humor as well, some of which is overt, while other elements are clever and subtle. I think Taika Waitit is a fantastic director and I think What We Do in the Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok particularly are both brilliant, hilarious films. It comes as no surprise that this film is so critically-acclaimed. However, there were parts of this film that irritated me, and took away from my overall enjoyment of this film. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is surprisingly violent at times, and without giving too much away, there are certain scenes relating to animals that are unsettling and unnecessary. I understand the whole wilderness survival aspect of this film, but it just seemed like there were a couple of scenes unrelated to hunting and survival that were both reckless and unnecessary. Most people who watch this film will inevitably know what I'm talking about, and they also may not care or share my viewpoint. I also understand the sentiment behind some of these more unsettling elements, but if I'm being honest, this movie could have carried along fine without them. As a sum of its parts, this movie is a very good, heartwarming tale of friendship and acceptance. I highly recommend this film, as it just narrowly missed out on four stars due to a couple flaws that I'll attribute to personal preference. Either way, you should definitely give this movie your full attention!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: In the birthday scene, the cast and crew filmed ten takes singing the normal "Happy Birthday" song before finding out they didn't have the rights to use it. So the song "Ricky Baker, It's your Birthday" was created on the spot by the actors.


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