Hidden Gem: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

While everyone scrambles to watch this year’s award-nominated movies, may I also point you at another film to consume with your eyeholes? The Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a hilarious adventure that feels like Wes Anderson taking on Flight of the Conchords.

Ok, I’ll unpack that comparison a bit. The film is written/directed by Taika Waititi (based on a book by Barry Crump), who is directly associated with the Flight of the Conchords world. (He directed/ wrote/starred in a vampire flick starring Jemaine Clement, What We Do in the Shadows.) While Shadows was quirky and funny in an offbeat way, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a bit more widely appealing as a well-rounded, heartwarming story. The style isn’t overly derivative of Wes Anderson, but uses some of his montage techniques to sweet/hilarious effect.

Part of what makes the movie so strong is its lead actor, Julian Dennison, who plays perpetual foster child Ricky Baker. His halfhearted goal of becoming a gangster is rounded out by his love for the “hottie” (hot pack) his foster mom leaves in his bed. Ricky finds himself placed with a quirky couple who live near the bush and hunt down wild pigs with a knife.

The dialog in this movie is hilarious. One of the best parts is a funeral scene where the preacher talks about a tempting door that contains goodies like “Coke Zero” and asked the crowd what’s behind the next door. “Vegetables?” Ricky asks. It’s definitely Flight of the Conchords-ian in its innocent randomness and overly ambitious allusions to pop culture.

This movie isn’t perfect. It can be a little John Green-level twee in its allusions to its own characters being smart. Ricky has to stop in every abandoned cabin and try to find books to read, for example. It’s also a little too action oriented, and I wish we had more time to relax and appreciate the awesome characters it created.

This movie gave me lots of feels and made with jokes I couldn’t stop laughing about for a couple days after I watched it. Definitely check this out next time you’re in the mood for jokes about the skux life.