Hunt for the Wilder People (2016)

Hands-down one of the best films of year! Don’t miss it!

Hunt for the Wilder People (2016)

Cast: Julian Dennison, Sam Neill, Rhys Darby
Director: Taika Waititi (New Zealand)
Studio: Orchard/ Sony Pictures 48158 (9/27/16)
Video: 2.35:1 for 16:9 screen, color 1080p
Audio: English DD 5.1
Dubbed: French
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Commentary track with director, Neill & Dennison, Behind the Scenes, Blooper Reel
Length: 101 min.
Rating: *****

B01IGFGG2G The defiant little 12-year-old kid Ricky Baker is getting a new start in a foster home in the New Zealand countryside. He tries to run away but Aunt Bello gets him back with her loving attention. There is a lot of attention given to the “hottie,” which in NZ language is a hot water bottle to sleep with. Unfortunately, she dies and the father (who has been in prison in the past) and the child take off for the jungle with their dog. Ricky doesn’t want to be shipped to another home, and so he and the man go on the run in the NZ bush. Their manhunt is in all the papers and they become a national concern, branded as outlaws. The book on which this was based was titled Wild Pork and Watercress, so you can understand why it was changed for the movie.

The stern lady playing the head of the foster homes does a terrific job in her role. The pair eventually have to decide if they will go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences to survive as a family. There’s a scene that may remind some viewers of Thelma & Louise. Some viewers think the light snow that appears in the bush is fake, but little fake props are in this wonderful film. The director was hoping for some snow, and they got it. There is a scene early on with Aunt Bello plucking some dead possums. The possum is evidently a big problem in New Zealand. There is one fairly scary scene where a wild boar attacks the pair and is bloodily dispatched with a knife, but aside from that this can be viewed by all ages.  Both lead actors are wonderful, but few will remember Sam Neil – it’s the amazing fat little kid Ricky that gets all the attention. Among other things, he writes haikus, which he learned how to do in foster care. There are gorgeous views of some of the New Zealand outback too. I liked it so much I ordered Waititi’s earlier film, What We Do in the Shadows.

—John Sunier

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