I usually don’t find quirky humor very funny, but the off beat comedy from New Zealand, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, kept me smiling from beginning to end. The main characters are an unwanted 13 year old foster kid and a grouchy 65 year old man.
Social Worker: Rickey Baker. He is a bad egg. His history of offenses and repeat offenses is too long to list. We’re talking graffitiing, littering, smashing stuff, burning stuff, breaking stuff, stealing stuff, throwing stuff, running away, and that’s just the stuff we know about.
Julian Dennison plays Ricky Baker, a neglected but essentially good kid that nobody wants until authorities bring him to his latest foster family on a farm far from any city.
His new foster mom embraces him right away. Her husband, Hector, played by Sam Neil, is another matter.
Foster Mom: Ricky, this is Hec. You can call him uncle if you like.
Hec: No he can’t.
Ricky: Is there anything you want me to do?
Hec: Yeah, leave me alone.
Ricky is a sweet boy who writes haiku poems and lives in his imagination a lot of the time. And it now appears that he’s finally found a home.
Foster Mom sings: Happy Birthday. Once rejected, now accepted by me and Hector, the trifecta.
But tragic events cause the surly Hec and the spunky Ricky to go on the run in bush country, chased by the authorities.
Hec: Gonna to be rough. No huts, no tents, real bush life and if you play up, I’ll dump you.
Ricky: OK, Uncle.
Hec: I’d still prefer if you don’t call me uncle.
In an empty cabin they discover a wanted poster with their faces on it.
Ricky (reading poster): Hector is cay cauc asian. Well they got that wrong, because you’re obviously white.
As the pair continues to run, they become closer than either thought possible which makes this comedy touching as well as funny.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is a goofy fantasy, but its emotions are real. I found the combination irresistible.
The movie was a surprise hit at the Sundance Film Festival. Chances are it will delight you, too.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org