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Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople | The Verdict

By Natasha Van Der Laan
19th Feb 2016

Hunt for the Wilderpeople review, Taika Waititi new movie, New Zealand film, Kiwi movie, Sam Neill, Julian Dennison

We swear Taika Waititi can do no wrong. The Kiwi filmmaker has delighted us with the likes of Eagle vs Shark, Boy and What We Do in the Shadows. And now, he’s at it again with Hunt for the Wilderpeople. The film opens on March 31 and because we’re a lucky bunch at The Urban List, we were treated to a sneak preview.

The film follows the story of Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a chubby, misunderstood kid who has been shuffled around foster homes his entire life. His new arrangement sees him living on a remote New Zealand farm with ‘Aunty’ Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and ‘Uncle’ Hector (Sam Neill). When a tragedy strikes that threatens to put Ricky back into the social system, he decides to run away with his dog Tupac. Hector is fast on his tracks and the two form an unlikely friendship as they navigate the Kiwi bush together. 

Meanwhile authorities are convinced Hector has gone crazy, taking Ricky against his will. A national manhunt ensues and shit ‘gets real’ as the duo outwit the clueless search party. It’s a journey of haikus, selfies and scroggin. 

No manhunt would be complete without an epic car chase and Hunt for the Wilderpeople features the most epic one yet. Picture a bright red Toyota Hilux ute taking on a fleet of cop cars, helicopters and the New Zealand defence force. Fast and the Furious, you’ve got nothing.

Based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by the late the Barry Crump, the film is divided into ten chapters and an epilogue. The coming-of-age comedy features laugh-out-loud moments with witty one-liners sure to delight Kiwi humour. International audiences will think we’re a bit of a loony bunch Down Under but we’re ok with this—we know we rule.

Kudos must be given to both Julian and Sam for their stellar performances. Delightful protagonist Julian drives the narrative and takes the spotlight. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the talented, young actor.

Shot on various North Island locations, the ‘majestical’ scenery will make you proud to live in this stunning lil country of ours. It’s jam-packed with Kiwisms and Taika manages to reference the All Blacks, Lord of the Rings, the ‘useless’ Warriors, L&P and pavlova.  

The film also features a fair few Kiwi cameo appearances. Look out for muso Stan Walker, comedian Rhys Darby, actor Oscar Kightley, Breakfast presenters Sam Wallace and Nadine Chalmers-Ross and Taika himself. There was even a ‘marvellous’ appearance from none other than John Campbell that prompted a loud cheer from the audience. 

It’s a big call to make but I’m gonna say it’s Taika’s best film to date. It’s fun, it’s adventurous, it brings the feels and reminds us ‘you don’t trade family for anything’. Right on, Taika. Gold star for you!

Check out the trailer here

Lurve movies? Check out our review for Zoolander 2

Image credit: Hunt for the Wilderpeople via Facebook

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