Directed by Taika Waititi

Written by Taika Waititi (screenplay), Barry Crump (based on the book by)

Starring: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te WiataRachel House

After the hilarious, infinitely quotable What We Do In The Shadows, Taika Waititi changes down a gear for this PG-rated adventure film that has a big heart as well as a lot of laughs. Adapted from the book by Barry Crump, Waititi brings the story to life in an almost perfect way.

Foster child Ricky Baker has been bouncing from foster home to foster home. Upon arriving at Hector and Bella’s house out in the bush, his first instinct is to run away. He quickly begins to warm to his new home, but soon into the film a tragic event causes Hector and Ricky to abandon the house, and in the following confusion, they become fugitives, making national news.

They are forced to hide deep in the bush, as authorities have decided that Hector is abusing Ricky. In a chance meeting with some hunters in a hut, Ricky doesn’t help matters by describing his relationship with Hector in… an extremely funny way, not knowing that what he is saying makes Hector look like a sadistic pervert. The two manage to escape the three hunters, but the hunters have seen the newspapers, and they quickly call the authorities into the area to hunt down the pair.

Leading this chase is supposed child welfare officer Paula Hall. Her motto is ‘No Child Left Behind’, but it is clear that her motives are not pure. Appearing on a news show, she describes Ricky as a ‘bad egg’, capable of spitting, littering, and other heinous crimes. It is hilarious to see her describe these petty acts as if they were crimes against humanity, and her negative energy visibly rattles the two news presenters. It would seem that in her eyes, no child left behind means no child is left outside the system.

The character development of both Hector and Ricky is incredible, as the two transform by film’s end as they survive in the bush for months. Their relationship also forms with perfect pacing, and there are many laughs to be had until the final credits, as well as some tense moments. This is because of the extreme adventure the two embark on, relying on each other and Hector’s knowledge of the bush to survive. After an encounter with a wildebeest, Ricky decides to label the two as Wilderpeople as they are being hunted much like the beast.


Hector can’t go back because the country is accusing him of being a child molester. Ricky can’t go back because, despite her charade of being supportive to young people, he knows that Paula will send him to juvenile detention if he is caught, as no other family will take him. This is a strong message within the film: the plight of foster children; children in the ‘system’ who are routinely treated like shit by government workers. I have read that only New Zealanders could fully understand this film. I may be Australian, a close cousin you could say, but I think anyone who is human will understand this film’s message, along with its brilliant sense of humour and adventure.

If I were to find fault in this film, and it is difficult, it would be that the theme of child welfare workers was a tad heavy. But it needs to be, it is a long-running problem in New Zealand and Australia, and I can’t imagine we are alone. This film shines a bright light on the issue while retaining that sense of fun and adventure. The depiction of child welfare is exaggerated but still not far from the truth. As an aspiring youth worker, the child welfare worker character disgusted me and reminded me of more than a few alleged child welfare workers I know of.


Soaking in the beauty that is New Zealand, it is hard to go wrong when filming. A welcome addition is a very unique and fitting soundtrack, which just adds to the atmosphere that the film 5.5 beer - no beer topcreates. Not one of tension or horror, but one of fun, of adventure. The film also has a huge heart. The acting is amazing, unsurprising for Aussie veteran Sam O’Niell, but young Julian Dennison steals the show, showing a knack for comic delivery and acting skills that are well beyond his years. I hope to see the youngster again, as he steals the show from O’Neill. As for Waititi, it seems superheroes are next, as he is slated to direct Thor 3. He sure as hell deserves the promotion.

Half a beer short of a sixer.



33 Comments on “HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE [2016]

  1. Great review Jordan, I love Taika Waititi. Gotta make sure I see this. I also had no idea he would be helming the next Thor film. That’s great news for him. (I hope. We all see what happened with Colin Trevorrow who went from indie darling to the man-in-charge of a multi-million-dollar mega-blockbuster, losing so much of himself in the process. I sure hope the same doesn’t become of Waititi. He’s a true talent.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hopefully it gets to overseas screens soon, its bloody brilliant. I don’t know if there is a youth welfare system in the states, but even if there isn’t, you’d have to be inhuman to not be able to relate to this story. I love Waititi too, and this movies really shows his range of humour…. if that makes sense

      And yes, I say its a promotion, but at the same time I am very wary. Can he make me like a superhero film? Will his form of humour get a voice? Or will his brilliance be edited out by accountants and others who are only about the $$$? Time will tell I guess

      Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve seen it? Was it at a festival somewhere? AKAIK its only playing in NZ and Australia. Hope I’m wrong though, this is a brilliant film and people need to see it

      Liked by 1 person

      • We saw it at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It was also at Sundance but you’re right, it’s not open yet in North America. It is coming very soon though! Agreed that this is one that everyone should see. It’s fantastic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh that is awesome, I’m so happy to hear it is getting released around the world soon. WWDITS took a loooong time to get to overseas screens, so this is great news


    • If you see this playing at a cinema, go see it. And if you liked What we do in the shadows, then you’ll love this. NZ humour is great, similar to Aussie humour but it has its own voice to be sure.

      Speaking of Aussie humour, have you seen The Castle? I’m gonna post about it soon, keep a lookout 🙂 It is an Australian classic.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I loved What We Do in the Shadows! And I’m a big fan of Flight of the Conchords too 🙂

        I think it’s out in UK cinemas at the end of this month, woo!!

        I have not yet seen The Castle, I will look it up now and look forward to your post!! 😀


      • The Castle is a true Aussie classic, everyone has seen it. Well, everyone over about 25. The generation gap is so small, it seems anyone younger than around 24/25 is part of the new generation, people growing up with mobile phones and the internet when they were children. I didn’t get a mobile phone till I was 16!!

        That is awesome that its playing over there. See it, and let me know what you think! I don’t know if there is a child welfare problem in the UK like there is here and in NZ but it sends a strong message. Its also a ton of fun! Hope you like it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad I grew up in the generation that I did, I’m 30 now and my childhood was very basic – no internet, no mobile phones, CRAP television with only 4 channels and hardly any signal lol. We didn’t even have a computer.

        But I was a teenager just as technology started getting big, so I can use stuff to a good ability now.

        I like having the ‘best of both worlds’ 🙂 I was in college when I had my first mobile, so must have been 16 or 17 – snap!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

        The Castle and Hunt for the Wilderpeople are both on my watch-very-quickly-list!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 1986? I’m turning 30 next month. And yeah, that was growing up for me too. I remember downloading songs on dial-up internet when I was 16 or so

        Liked by 1 person

      • 1985, I’m a December baby 🙂

        Haha, me too!!! OMG remember that awful dial up sound for internet? If you picked up the phone you could really hear it ha ha.

        When we were young Gameboy and Encarta were the shiz!!!!! 🙂

        What date next month? I’d like to remember 🙂


  2. I so want to see this solely because of Taika Waititi’s involvement! So impressed by WWDITS but this one looks lovely as well. Great review, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is brilliant Ruth. You’ll love it!

      Is there a child welfare sort of system in the states? Even if not, I think this story will resonate with anyone. Young people both here and in NZ are treated so badly its never reported because they want to cover it up. This movie exposes those people brilliantly and in a funny way

      Look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. Its a totally different style of humour to WWDITS, which shows just how versatile Waititi can be

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah Waititi is a true artist! I mean he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Film, which I haven’t seen yet. I think his interesting background (half Maori, half Euro/Jewish) certainly helps shaped his diverse perspectives/tastes in film, which is always a good thing.

        I definitely will watch this one Jordan, thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review Jordan. I cannot wait for this! Though I wasnt the biggest fan of What We Do in the Shadows, I did like certain aspects of it, so excited o see how this turns out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is very different comedy wise, its PG, but so so funny. I’m actually surprised it isn’t rated M… But well owrth the watch. Looks and sounds stunning too

      Liked by 1 person

    • that insight is because on of my best friends was raised in the system and goddamn some of the horror stories are disgusting. More awful than you could ever imagine. And it happened so much that it desensitised her. Now when something really messed up happens, she is apathetic, because it became what her life was on a daily basis.

      Its people like her who make me want to be a youth worker.

      Liked by 1 person

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