It’s not often I see a movie that I’d recommend to literally anyone. In fact, I don’t think I’d blindly recommend any of my all-time favorites. Too dark. Too old. Too silly. A great movie is rarely a universally appealing one. There are people out there who don’t like the Dark Knight. There are even people out there who don’t like Jaws 3D.
For my money, I’ve pretty much only ever been confident recommending Raiders of the Lost Ark or A Christmas Story to anyone from coworkers to grandparents to drinking buddies.
Now, add to that esteemed list Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Director Taika Waititi’s adaptation of Barry Crump’s book Wild Pork and Watercress is the story of a Tupac-idolizing city kid sent to live with foster parents in the New Zealand countryside. But don’t fret, what could be a by-the-numbers fish out of water story proves to be anything but. The adventure that ensues is hilarious and exciting and moving while consistently maintaining a sense of authenticity and sincerity.
Its humor is never slapstick, its drama is never sappy and its action never feels flimsy. Hunt for the Wilderpeople fully commits to a variety of tones without ever spreading itself too thin.
But that’s not what makes Hunt for the Wilderpeople a film I’d confidently recommend to my primary care physician and my grandma’s bridge club.
Wilderpeople’s deepest, truest appeal is derived from its careful courtship of the inner misfit in every one of us. It takes a gamble on the sneaking suspicion that something about you is different. Something about you is strange. Wilderpeople coaxes out that part of us that the world just does not understand and celebrates it wildly, with pomp and circumstances and heart and style, even in the face of a crushing status quo that dedicates a clown car of resources towards marginalizing that which it does not comprehend.
The climax of Hunt for the Wilderpeople is bombastic to say the least. It’s big and loud and exciting and yet some secret, quiet part of me related to that moment more than any other, like I was there, like I’d been there and like I’d probably be there again.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is funny, charming and energetic, buts it’s also incredibly resonant on a very human level. Whether your favorite film this year was Star Trek Beyond or The Lobster, I feel pretty confident highly recommending you see Hunt for the Wilderpeople.