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Review: HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

 

With all that hoo-haa over the New Zealand Flag, it was rather comforting to see a NZ film that celebrates whats’ cool and funny about who we are as Kiwis.

After watching the depressing ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’ – Taika Waititis’ latest offering “The Hunt For The Wilderpeople” was a much needed brew of light-hearted comedy that I needed. How appropriate that a nicely branded Tuatara ‘Wilder Brew’ was in the fridge at the counter when I bought the movie ticket.

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As for the film?  It’s an absolute crack-up.

Based on Barry Crumps’ novel “Wild Pork & Watercress”, trying to mix the rugged ‘blokish’ prose of the book with the quirky comedy of Taika Waititi was an interesting prospect. And it succeeds in spades (and gumboots).

The young Julian Denniston plays foster-boy & juvee delinquent Ricky Baker  – The”Real Bad Egg” of the film. He’s such a natural on the big screen and wouldn’t look outta place in the 80s kids adventure flick ‘The Goonies’.

Sam Neill is brilliant (as always) playing the bearded gruff Uncle Heck – and he fits into the hardened, crusty bushman as easily as the black/ blue check Swandri he wears in the film.

Together, they’re fantastic playing the odd couple who forge an unlikely friendship – the funniest pair of Kiwi misfits since McPhail & Gadsby. Jermaine & Brett. Jono & Ben. Corbett & Ego. Key & English. I’m kidding.

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They go on the run (which is more like a ‘fast walk’) and escape to the impassible Urewera Bush and as Uncle Heck quips; the ‘majestical’  New Zealand landscape. It begins a hilarious adventure –  as the two try to escape a tenacious social worker who thinks she’s Sarah Conner, a bumbling Samoan cop, a wild pig that looks like it took acting lessons from that grizzly bear in ‘The Revenant’, Stan Walker, a crazy conspiracy theorist, the Armed Offenders Squad and the NZ Army.

There’s great support from the always funny Rima Te Wiata, as well as Rhys Darby, Rachel House, Oscar Kightly, and of course Taika Waititi – who plays the weirdest and funniest Minister I’ve seen since Rowan Atkinson in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’. I can see my Dad (who’s a retired Minister) having a quiet chuckle watching that particular scene.

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The movie also pays homage to old classic 70s’ kiwi films and NZ advertising with nods to Sleeping Dogs (which starred a young Sam Neill with a darker beard – pictured above), Smash Palace and the famous Barry Crump & Lloyd Scott Toyota TV ads of the 1980s.

There are certainly darker moments in the film – but overall, it’s much lighter in tone than Taikas’ second feature ‘BOY’ and much better than his vampire flick ‘What We Do in the Shadows’. I was constantly laughing throughout the film, as too was the small audience who were watching it at the Lighthouse Cuba Cinema.

For those who got a bit hot & bothered after the whole NZ flag Referendum recently (I certainly was), don’t flag this gem of a movie and see it. It’ll make you feel happy to be a kiwi again. It’s definitely got my big tick.

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2016 by .
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