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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR STARS Ricky and old Hec are New Zealand's most wanted. Local police are going to catch these 'bad eggs'.


Starring Sam Neill, Julian Dennison

Consider the broad appeal of his breakout, BOY, and the esoteric craziness of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and look for where they intersect – that’s where you’ll find THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, a funny, often poignant, always offbeat comedy about two people looking for love. Even if they don’t know it.

Young Ricky (PAPER PLANES’ Julian Dennison) is a bad egg. A defiant, rule-breaking city kid dumped in the country by child services. Fortunately, Bella is living there and she becomes foster mum to the loveably feisty teenager. She lives there with curmudgeonly Hec (Sam Neill - SKIN) who becomes an unwilling uncle when Beth suddenly dies, an event that sends them deep into the bush where, unwittingly, they become New Zealand’s most-wanted. The ensuing manhunt is the bastard child of LORD OF THE RINGS, THELMA AND LOUISE and RAMBO, with more jokes.

Based on a book by Kiwi national treasure Barry Crump, Waititi, an alumni of The Flight of the Conchords, injects his very particular brand of offbeat humour that recalls Monty Python and Blackadder while remaining a 100% pure New Zealand experience. Some viewers might require subtitles, but even the local ‘uccent’ is another reason for another joke. Not that he’s Waititi is one to take the ‘puss’, he’s too charitable for that.

It is his generosity of spirit that makes THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE such a tremendous experience. Here’s a film that invites everyone inside the tent to have a laugh, and this inclusivity is his greatest asset. Everything, from the tight, finely paced script to Dennison’s energetic performance and Neill’s solid core speaks to Waititi’s heart, and beautifully warped sense of being. Consequently, he can take us to unexpected places and tease out unexpected emotion from the inevitability of his premise (we know they’ll end up mates, but it’s how they end up mates that surprises).

Sometimes touching, occasionally telling, frequently funny and always entertaining, THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is the best film to come out of Nuzelan in weeks. Maybe months. Maybe all year.



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