With What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, writer-director Taika Waititi has quietly made the two comedies I have enjoyed the most in the past two years. (This fact has me more excited for the Waititi-directed Thor: Ragnarok than either previous movie about Marvel’s blond Norse god.) Comedies do not get much more pleasant than this one; Hunt for the Wilderpeople is simply a joy to watch.
Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a nightmare foster kid guilty of running away, spitting, kicking things, burning things, graffiti and more, according to an intense Child Services employee named Paula (Rachel House). When tragedy ends Ricky’s perfect placement with Bella (Rima Te Wiata), the young delinquent runs off into the bush with her gruff hubby, Hec (Sam Neill). Suddenly, Ricky and Hec are wanted by the law during a months-long chase through the bush.
It is good to see Neill back on the big screen, but Dennison steals the entire movie from everyone. Whether the young actor can turn this role into a career remains to be seen, but he deserves all the accolades for making Baker so damn charming. I am not sure 2016 will see another film so genuinely appealing.
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