Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I may have mentioned this already, but Taika Waititi has grown over the years as one of my favourites when it comes to directing. He's a fine example of someone whose material that I have seen, I've never really been disappointed in. From 'What We Do in the Shadows' to 'Thor: Ragnarok' and even a bit of TV with 'Wellington Paranormal', he seems to hit the mark every time. The man knows how to entertain, my fandom for him just keeps growing, and this movie is no exception. It just makes me want to see more.
We meet a juvenile delinquent named Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), who has been given a new home through child welfare with his kindly new foster aunt, Bella (Rima Te Wiata), and her crotchety husband, Hector - nicknamed "Hec" (Sam Neill). Bella is very successful in forming a relationship with Ricky, but Hec really keeps to himself, and even sees the boy as a sort of unnecessary burden that he's putting up with. One day, things fall apart when Bella suddenly passes, and Hec prepares to give Ricky back to child services. This leads to Ricky faking suicide and running away with his dog, Tupac.
Soon enough, however, Hec finds the lost Ricky in the bush, and an injury to Hec's ankle has the two of them camping out for a little while. Meanwhile, back at the house, authorities find it abandoned, with some damage to the barn (caused by Ricky's fake suicide) and conclude that a bereaved and unstable Hec has kidnapped Ricky. But while authorities search for the pair, Hec has a nasty criminal record and Ricky's fate if brought in by authorities at this point could only be bad. With that, the two decide to head into the woods together; fugitives of sorts, ducking and dodging authority figures. And don't worry, the movie has a better explanation than I do about why these two are being chased.
With all of that, hopefully, I didn't spoil too much in my description. But anyway, essentially we have Alan Grant of 'Jurassic Park' trying to take care of and bond with the pain-in-the-ass kid from 'Deadpool 2'. I mean, it already sounds kind of fun, doesn't it? Especially when all he wanted to really do in the first place is get rid of the boy. That's nothing against actor Julian Dennison, but he manages to find himself somewhat typecast. Between this, 'Deadpool 2' and 'Christmas Chronicles 2', he seems to always land a role as a kid we're supposed to get irritated with, yet sympathize for. I think he's got talent, but he needs to land something where he can really flex his acting muscles.
With that said, however, this predates other things I've seen him in, so it could be said that the trend started here. It's also fitting to play off of Sam Neil's character. Their chemistry is honestly quite good here. I like the idea that this takes the father/son concept and makes it completely reluctant. Neither Ricky nor Hec want to really be with each other here, but they're forced to be and made to look out for one another. What gives it the extra "zip" is that these two aren't lost, scared and alone so much as they're survivors on the run from authorities. It often results in hilarity, but it's balanced very well with a good amount of drama.
As far as Taika Waititi's material goes (that I have seen), I would put this level to something like 'Jojo Rabbit'. All in all, it IS a drama, but it's a drama that's full of laughs that can STILL manage to make you tear up. Waititi seems to be very good at being able to gauge our every emotion, even though he leans towards comedy first. After seeing this, I've convinced myself that I need to check out some of his material that I haven't seen yet. For any fans of his who haven't checked this title out yet, I'm gonna highly recommend it. I may have liked 'Jojo' a bit better, but this is very close in comparison, especially with such a good soundtrack full of indie music.
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