“Hunt for Wilderpeople”: A film about found family, unlikely duos, and adventure

Spoiler Warning: Proceed with caution

Taika Waititi has directed and written over a dozen films including Jojo Rabbit, Thor: Ragnarok, and What We Do in the Shadows. Waititi’s films are always full of humor, amazing music, and great cinematography and Hunt for Wilderpeople is no exception. 

Hunt for Wilderpeople has vibrant scenes with gorgeous backdrops of the New Zealand bush, which is basically forest in rural areas. The story follows a teenage boy named Ricky Baker who has been rejected by every foster home because of his unruly behavior. Ricky is taken to a new home out in the countryside to live with Bella and Hector Faulkner. 

When tragedy strikes, Ricky runs away to the bush to avoid being taken to juvenile detention by the antagonist of the story, Paula, who works with child services. Hector then shows up in the bush and is forced to get along with Ricky because of a fractured ankle. The two rough it out and become close, even though Hector had given Ricky the cold shoulder when they first met.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s story is one of my favorite kinds of stories. A grumpy old man adopts an unruly teen and they learn to get along throughout the course of the movie and eventually rely on each other. The film is full of adventure as Ricky and Hector fight wild boars, steal from hunters, and go on a wild car chase. It’s a great, heartwarming story that showcases all of Waititi’s writing and directing talents. I found myself laughing, cheering the characters on, and also feeling heartbroken during a few of the sadder scenes. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is currently streaming on both Netflix and Hulu so check it out if you need a story about connection and family in these unprecedented times. — Grace Alexandria

Photo: Scene from Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Captured by Michael Sragow of filmcomment.com


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