Hunt for the Wilderpeople


Ivry so offen, a film comes along that makes you feel as happy as a box of budgies. A brilliant, corker of a movie. Taika Waititi — Kiwi, actor, writer, producer, director, dang handsome bloke, and a real hard case — spint heaps of time on this film. Well, good on ya, mate! All that hard yakka paid off in spades! Chur!

That’s it. That’s all the New Zealand slang I’ve got. If you didn’t read it in a New Zealand accent, you probably thought I was having a stroke. Nope! Just flexing my Kiwi muscle!

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a bad egg. Known on the streets for kicking stuff, throwing stuff, stealing stuff, running away, and spitting — just to name a few — Ricky gets shipped off to live with a foster family in the country. His Foster Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) does her best to make him feel welcome, even decorating his room with fun kitsch and a “nice sharp knife to kill the monsters in the night”.

Unfortunately for Ricky, his Foster Uncle, Hec (Sam Neill), isn’t as keen on having him around as Bella is. They make it work, though, celebrating Ricky’s 13th birthday by gifting him a dog that he names Tupac. Perfect.

Feeling like he’s finally found his place in the world, Ricky spends his days playing  with Tupac, reciting Haiku poems, and hunting with Aunt Bella. Sadly, nothing gold can stay. Following events unforeseen, a letter arrives from Child Services explaining that Ricky must return to the foster system to find new placement.

Steadfastly refusing to return to the system, Ricky makes a run for it, burning a decoy Ricky in hopes that the paper plate head he’s fashioned of himself will throw Child Services, convincing them that he is only charred remains.

It doesn’t work. None of that matters, because he’s already off in the bush; a wild and unforgiving, muddy place where he’ll live on his own in Rickytown. Population: Ricky. And Tupac. Only he’s very slow and easy to track, leading Hec right to him to take him back. Finding shelter for the night, the two discover that Hec is wanted by the law and are forced to overcome their differences as they are now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.


I’ve seen a lot of movies in my day. My favorite has been Jaws since I was 8-years-old. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is making me question that loyalty. This movie is choc-a-block with rock solid performances. That’s a little more Kiwi for ya.

Taika Waititi wrote his first adaptation of the book that Wilderpeople is based on — Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump — back in 2005. He’s gone on to say that he’s glad he didn’t make the movie then because he’s learned so much about what gets audiences to the theaters. Things like car chases and “the endurance of the renegade”. Whatever he’s doing is working like gangbusters.


Wilderpeople is sneaky in the way that it gets the viewer to care deeply for Hec and Ricky. By the end, you’re so attached to these characters — who are both kind of assholes — but also share an extraordinarily relatable vulnerability. And that creates a sort of unspoken bond that exists not only between them, but for the audience as well.

Every single person in this movie contributes to its greatness. No role — however small — goes unnoticed or unappreciated. It is aggressively funny, clever, and — at times — perfectly absurd. And it’s all under the umbrella of a score that fits like a glove by Moniker.

For their part, Sam Neill and Julian Dennison absolutely murder their time on-screen. Neill — a Hollywood veteran — is always an enjoyable watch. Dennison — who has only recently started acting — is going to be incredibly successful in film. Not only is he adorable, but his comic timing is outstanding. And remember, he didn’t choose the skux life. The skux life chose him.

In closing, I’ve written a Haiku of my own. Ahem:

Wilderpeople is
majestical and the best
go see it right now



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