Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, 2016. Directed by Taika Waititi. Featuring Sam Neill, Julian Dennisson.

13 year old Ricky Baker, a self styled urban gangster, is a real bad egg. It looks like he’ll get a chance at love and a family when foster care places him in a remote farmhouse with “Aunty” Bella–even if “Uncle” Hec seems disinterested. But when tragedy strikes and Child Services comes to reclaim Rick, he refuses his doom and flees into the wild. Hec finds Ricky, but before he can lead him out, he falls and breaks his leg and the two are forced to camp for weeks. By the time they poke their noses out of the wilderness ex-con Hex is a presumed kidnapper and child molester. With Hec facing prison, and Ricky a fate worse than prison, the two head back into the bush.

The nationwide manhunt is led by Child Services Agent Paula, a power hungry mad dog ready to marshall all the troops and special forces she can to “rescue” Ricky. As the reward for capture increases the noose tightens, and Ricky and Hec come to value their partnership, but as their future shrinks Hec begins to question the value of running forever, and Ricky begins to question Hec’s dedication to the cause.

It’s a wonderfully enjoyable film, the sort you watch with a smile plastered on your face. There are tender moments and hilarious ones, others are painful in a good way. It’s a solid, good time that wrings a lot of feel good laughs from the premise.