If you’ve ever watched a movie like Midnight Run or Thelma And Louise and thought: “I wish there was a film like this that I could watch with my kids”, your wish has finally come true. This New Zealand tale of troubled kid Ricky Baker (the brilliant Dennison) and his curmudgeonly foster father Hec (Neill) has the comedy, adventure and on-the-run storyline elements of those two classics, and mixes them up with striking New Zealand scenery and some bonkers ideas to make a warm, hilarious movie everyone will adore.
After his most recent bout of bad behaviour, young city-living foster kid Ricky is taken to the remote countryside home of grumpy Hec and his kindly wife Bella (Te Wiata) by social services officer/wannabe cop Paula (House). Following a rather fiery accident, he runs away and ends up lost in the bush. Luckily Hec finds him, but the two reluctant companions find themselves on the run with a maniacally determined Paula and the police – thinking that Hec has kidnapped Ricky – in hot pursuit.
Packed with laugh-out-loud moments as Hec and Ricky try and survive out in the bush, this has a terrific, smart script from writer/director Taika Waititi (best known for Flight Of The Conchords and the hysterical vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows) that offers some sweet moments, too, without ever becoming over-sentimental. And that’s not only down to his words and direction – it’s also the pitch-perfect performances that make this movie such a treasure.
Sam Neill is superbly sour, and House and supporting characters played by Rhys Darby and Waititi himself (as a minister) are a hoot. But the entire film belongs to Dennison (who was just 12 when the movie was made), and it is he who gives the movie its heart – and runs off with ours in the process.
Don’t miss it.
Is Hunt For The Wilderpeople suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Parents should note that this is a 12A certificate and does have quite a lot of bad language that may not be suitable for the under-10s.
There are a few subtle references to paedophilia that younger children may not notice or understand.
One character dies (the death itself is not shown though) which may upset younger viewers.
There are a few gory moments not suitable for the under 10s, including the killing of a wild pig (and there is quite a lot of blood) and a scene in which a dog is gored by a wild boar leading to the dog being shot.