Thursday, July 21, 2016


I loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a comedy adventure about a young boy and an old curmudgeon on the run in New Zealand bush country. I went to see it partly for the plot and partly because it starred Sam Neill. It's wonderful and laugh out loud funny.

The movie begins with a social worker and policeman delivering a young boy to his new foster parents on a remote farm. The social worker describes Ricky Baker as a "bad egg", listing all his petty juvenile delinquency, but the farmer Bella is still very welcoming to the boy. She invites Ricky to call her Auntie, but her husband Hector grumbles at being called Uncle. Played by Sam Neill, Hector is introduced marvelously while carrying a dead pig on his back. He's a loner and barely tolerates the boy's presence. Bella brings Ricky a hot water bottle for his bed every night, and Ricky hugs it like it's the first sign of love he's ever received. Bella also teaches him to shoot a gun and kills a wild boar in front of him, causing the boy to faint. The movie is hilarious and full of pop culture references. Ricky is very fond of Tupac and what he imagines gangsta life to be.

Soon Bella's patience and love wins over Ricky, but she suddenly dies, leaving Hector bereft and the child welfare people threatening to take Ricky back. So the boy fakes his death and runs away with Bella's ashes, intending to take them up the mountain where she said she came from. The inexperienced Ricky gets lost though, and Hector follows him, but gets injured, and they have to camp out in the wilderness for some weeks. Meanwhile the child welfare people discover the arson and search for the missing persons. The social worker from before is disturbingly obsessed with finding them, and even though she should sympathize with Ricky as being a poor lost child, she continues to describe him as a troublemaking hooligan.

Ricky and Hector eventually find out that people are searching for them, but due to a misunderstanding, authorities think that Hector is a pedophile who has kidnapped Ricky. Hector and Ricky become fugitives and have various adventures while evading capture. I guess they hope that authorities will give up the manhunt eventually and let them live in the wild like they want. Ricky reads a book about the migration of the wildebeests, so he starts to call them wilderpeople for wandering through the bush. They even come across a tinfoil hat conspiracy nut living off the grid. Much like in Jurassic Park, Sam Neill's character initially dislikes the kid but grows fond of him, and they bond during their adventures. It's a great, enjoyable film.

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