Ah, Taika Waititi. Will your wonders never cease to amaze me?
I expected many things going into Hunt for the Wilderpeople. And I did get what I was expecting. But I got so much more on top of that! This movie drove up to me, rolled down the windows, and shouted “Get in, bitch, we’re going to crazy town!” It then shoved me into the backseat and drove off into the sunset at two hundred miles an hour.
And it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!
Plot: Two Gangsters in the Woods
You ever play The Last of Us? Or God of War (2018)? Yeah, it’s those. Only replace zombies/ Norse gods with… the New Zealand police force?
Never mind. This is way better.
Rebellious teen Ricky is adopted by hillbilly couple, Hec, who doesn’t care for the kid, and Bella, who quickly develops a bond with him. But when tragedy strikes, Ricky and Hec are left alone. One series of mistakes and misunderstandings later and the two are now being hunted by every police officer in New Zealand. Eager to avoid jail and juvie, the two must set aside their differences to escape the iron grip of the law.
I had to leave out so much in that summary to avoid spoilers. But I don’t want to spoil anything for the crowd that hasn’t seen it yet. The surprise is a major part in what makes this movie fun. Hell, I’ve probably spoiled too much already!
This movie does something that so few comedies can do: strike a balance. It knows just when to be dramatic and when to be comedic. The transition between them is so smooth that it’s almost impossible to notice. It perfectly balances the two tones, delivering one of the most compelling comedies I’ve ever seen!
It also manages to save every joke! Did you not find that one joke funny? Well, don’t worry! The script is cleverly written in a way that turns what appears to be a joke into a setup for a later joke! My favorite example of this is the Terminator reference. In the scene it happens, I didn’t find it all that entertaining. But when it came back later? I couldn’t help but chuckle!
It certainly helps that the two main characters, Ricky and Hec, are wonderfully written! Both of them have what the other lacks but suffer from opposing personalities, making their chemistry a delight to see! Watching them get closer to the point of becoming inseparable is wonderful! And the ending of that story is incredibly emotional! I fucking love it!
In terms of writing, this movie absolutely knocked it out of the park. It’s hilarious, it’s emotional, and it’s incredibly engaging. This is definitely one I would go back to study what good screenwriting looks like.
Presentation: Man, Forests are Gorgeous!
Holy shit, those establishing shots! Why do I suddenly want to take a hike?! It’s 103 outside, I don’t wanna go out there!
This movie looks damn good! Every shot is wonderful to look at! It combines clever editing with interesting camera work to create one of the most dynamic films I’ve seen! It’s just so damn pretty!
Unfortunately, it isn’t flawless. There is one scene that stands out so badly that it stuck with me in a really sour way. And that scene is the boar fight near the end. Was the boar CGI or a puppet? I couldn’t tell you. But I could sure tell you that it wasn’t nice to look at!
Notice how minor that complaint is. It’s basically a nitpick. That should go to show just how damn good this movie is on a visual front.
But again: it’s Taika Waititi. What did you expect?
Performances: Hey, the kid from Deadpool 2 and the dude from Jurassic Park!
Would it be mean to say that I didn’t now Sam Neill was in anything other than Jurassic Park? I legitimately don’t know if I’ve ever seen him in anything else! Hold on, let me just… *checks the IMDb page*… WHAT THE FUCK HE WAS IN THOR: RAGNAROK?!
It’s hard to find a stand-out performance when everyone is doing so damn well! Normally, I hate kid actors, but Julian Dennison (that’s a fucking rad name) keeps surpassing my expectations time and time again! Despite my joke, I can’t deny how good Sam Neill was as Hec. Hell, even Taika is doing a great job as the Minister!
Although he did do a great job as Hitler. Take that out of context.
It certainly helps that the script is so damn good. But it definitely isn’t doing all the work here. Everyone gives this movie their all and it’s a joy to watch!
Among my group of friends, there are a few directors we all agree are the best in the modern industry. Those include Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, Guillermo del Toro, and Zack Snyder (followed immediately by a wave of laughter and ‘just kidding’). And now, after so many hits, I now have to add Taika Waititi to that list.
If you still haven’t seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople, I’d highly recommend you fix that! It’s one of the most ridiculously fun movies I’ve seen in a long time! It’s a movie I can watch over and over again and enjoy it just as much as I did the first time around!
If only I weren’t an adult… God, I miss having an overabundance of free time.