Every now and then a film comes along and although you don’t personally resonate with it, you can appreciate its humour, its story and characters but never quite connect with them on an emotional level. This is exactly how I feel about Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Despite its conventional story, told with enough flair to make it stand out among others in this genre, it never quite feels like an incredible film.
The story follows Ricky (Julian Dennison), a troubled foster child who’s life of moving from one home to another is seemingly ended when he arrives with his loving Aunt Bella, dog Tupac and distant Uncle Hec (Sam Neill). When a tragedy strikes, Ricky takes off into the lush New Zealand forest with Uncle Hec as they struggle to not only find common ground together, but also find a way to avoid being detained as a public manhunt ensues.
Its unique blend of humour and action really elevates the film though and there are some genuine laugh out loud moments. These are contrasted by some dramatic scenes thrown in to help with the pacing and overall the film plays out at a decent pace and with enough flair to confidently stamp a unique flavour on this adventure story.
The acting is also good here as well – particularly from Sam Neill who, for me, steals the show with a really good performance. His subtle expressions of grief, anger, pride and everything in between was really well done and his chemistry spills over to co-star Julian who is equally as impressive alongside him.
For all the positives though, Hunt For The Wilderpeople feels like that good Indie film you watch and like but ultimately don’t remember in 5 or 10 years time. Perhaps that’s unfair to say with such critical acclaim but for me, Hunt For The Wilderpeople falls into this category. Its a film that, whilst not necessarily doing anything bad, also doesn’t do anything particularly incredible that hasn’t been achieved before. It does have a unique way of telling its story which is a nice touch but aside from that, Hunt For The Wilderpeople is simply a really good but not quite great film