Hunt for the Wilderpeople worth seeking out | Reviews | Creative Loafing Charlotte
Pin It
Submit to Reddit

Hunt for the Wilderpeople worth seeking out 

Rating: ***

*** (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Taika Waititi
STARS Sam Neill, Julian Dennison

Julian Dennison and Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Photo: The Orchard)
  • Julian Dennison and Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Photo: The Orchard)

A grouchy old man and a roly-poly boy; the devastating loss of a significant other; a faithful canine companion (two, actually); the sighting of a rare kind of bird. Sure, it might sound like Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a live-action remake of the Pixar gem Up, but it's actually its own beast, a memorable tale alternating between heaviness and heart.

Sam Neill plays the grizzled elder, stuck in the New Zealand wilds with a young boy (Julian Dennison) and being pursued by authority figures who mistakenly believe that he not only kidnapped the child but is also sexually abusing him. That couldn't be further from the truth: On the contrary, the kid doesn't especially want to return to civilization and fancies himself a hardcore gangster successfully eluding the police (in truth, he's no more gangster than any of the Little Rascals).

Adapted (from Barry Crump's book Wild Pork and Watercress) and directed by What We Do in the Shadows creator Taika Waititi (who interjects himself into the proceedings by playing a minister in one strained scene), Hunt for the Wilderpeople is excellent when it focuses solely on the relationship between — and the misadventures of — its two central figures. It's less captivating when the attention turns to several doltish characters, most critically an abrasive social worker (Rachel House) but also a selfie-loving slacker (Troy Kingi) and a conspiracy theorist named Psycho Sam (Rhys Darby). Still, these supporting players are only the side dishes, and the main course is more than savory enough to cover up their overcooked flavorlessness.

Pin It
Submit to Reddit


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

More by Matt Brunson

Search Events

© 2019 Womack Digital, LLC
Powered by Foundation