Hunt For The Wilderpeople ***
One Liner Review:
An okay comedy with a nice, simple plot, and some pretty good humor to go along with it.
Hunt For the Wilderpeople is a pretty decent movie. It’s a black comedy about a boy who is from the wrong side of the tracks, in and out of different foster homes his whole life, and now finds himself adopted by a colorful Aunt. When things turn sour, this boy, Ricky Bobby, finds himself on a journey through the woods with the Aunt’s boyfriend, Hec, while the rest of the world searches for them, thinking that Ricky Bobby has been kidnapped. The story isn’t anything special, but the humor is pretty good. Especially from two characters… Aunt Bella and Paula, the woman who is the head of adoptive services.
Hunt For The Wilderpeople is a movie about a boy and his new “Uncle,” Hec, (Sam Neil,) hiding out in the woods, with law enforcement thinking that the boy has been kidnapped. The truth is, Hec has been injured, and the boy (Ricky Bobby,) is taking care of him, helping Hec get back on his feet. The misunderstanding between what the world thinks and what these two are actually up to, is what sets the tone of the movie. It’s humorous in a Tucker Dale Vs Evil kind of way, where some of the characters are ridiculously over the top, (like Paula, the woman from adoptive services,) and the film is all the better because of it.
The storyline itself is pretty straight forward. At the start of the film, Ricky Bobby is brought out to the countryside in New Zealand, to live with his Aunt and her boyfriend. Ricky Bobby is an overweight kid of about twelve, and Paula informs the Aunt, (Bella,) that he is bad seed. We see Ricky Bobby doing things in quick flash backs, that he keeps getting in trouble for, such as spray painting a wall. The funny idea to this is that Ricky Bobby is not being sneaky about anything, and instead takes the attitude that he just doesn’t know or doesn’t care that what he’s doing is wrong.
Ricky Bobbys Aunt is very kind and welcoming of the boy, but at the same time she refuses to sugar coat his weight situation. She’s not direct or angry about it, or anything like that, but she’s certainly filled with a lot of jokes. So is Paula.. In fact, she’s the funniest character in the movie, being very abrupt, without any conception of how she sounds when she says certain things. Ricky Bobby doesn’t seem to resent either one of their senses of humor, but just goes along with it. He’s not an angry boy, just a confuses and misunderstood one.
Ricky Bobby wants to be loved and cared for. He wants a real family, and so he calls Hec, “Uncle,” despite the man’s objections. Hec is an angry and gruff man who is basically the total opposite of the Aunt. Here’s a man who never smiles or cracks a joke. When Ricky Bonby asks what he an do for his Uncle, the Uncle responds, “you can leave me alone.” The three of these characters are each so different from each other, with Bella being loud and full of life, Hec being the exact opposite, and Ricky Bobby being indifferent.
So these are our characters. Each one of them is funny in his or her own way, and that includes Ricky Bobby who is obsessed with rappers, and talking tough. He’s sensitive and cries and he even runs away from his new home a few times. Ricky Bobby is the star of the film, and his reactions to some of the more strange characters, (like Paula, Bella, or s msn he meets in a cabin,) are great. He’s certainly a bit eccentric himself, but he tones it down a notch to give us the kind of character that we can relate to.
Everything seems to be going smoothly for the new family unit, living out in the bush, which is a deserted farm area, where nobody ever goes. Then one day, something happens with the Aunt, and Ricky Bobby and Hec are left all alone. Ricky Bobby runs away and when Hec chases the boy and sprains his ankle, while out in the wilderness, the rest is history. Now the two of them are in the woods trying to get Hec to recover enough to make it back to the house.
Only that’s not so easy. And when Paula shows up at the house and find them all missing, she puts out a search. She thinks that Ricky Bobby has been kidnapped, and so the manhunt begins. This is mostly about Ricky Bobby and Hec trying to get through their time in the woods, at this point. Hec teaches the boy some survival skills, including how to catch an eel. And the two of them take on a giant attacking boar. While some of these moments are entertaining, the highlight characters are definitely Paula and Aunt Bella, and when neither one of them is on screen, the humor level drops.
At one point, Ricky Bobby and Hec do make it to a cabin, only to surprise a group of hunters who are returning from the woods. These hunter know who Ricky Bobby is an know the news of his disappearance. They try to hold Hec and the boy at gunpoint, and that’s when Ricky Bonny steps up and helps Hec out, by using a gun on the hunters. For the two of them, this is the first indication that there is a hunt going on for him. There will be many more to follow.
Another example of how Ricky Bobby is pretty much a celebrity comes when the boy goes looking for shelter somewhere near the bush, and stumbles upon the house and guitar playing of a man and his teenage daughter. The daughter isn’t fazed by Ricky Bobby at all, but to the man, having this boy in the house is a dream come true. He snaps a whole ton of selfies with the boy and continually tells Ricky Bobby how much he loves him.
There’s a lot to like about this movie. While the plot definitely isn’t anything special, the humor really works and that adds to every scene. The story about the boy being adopted, then going on the run, is a little too simple, but sometimes with a comedy, that’s exactly what you need. This movie has no major twists or revelations, but it certainly is enjoyable.