Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)



Critic Consensus: The charmingly offbeat Hunt for the Wilderpeople unites a solid cast, a talented filmmaker, and a poignant, funny, deeply affecting message.

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Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. Equal parts road comedy and rousing adventure story, director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, upcoming THOR: RAGNORAK) masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. A hilarious, touching crowd-pleaser, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way.

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Julian Dennison
as Ricky Baker
Sam Neill
as Uncle Hec
Rima Te Wiata
as Aunt Bella
Rhys Darby
as Psycho Sam
Taika Waititi
as Minister
Stu Giles
as Sick Man
Lloyd Scott
as Tourist
Selina Woulfe
as Organ Player
Mabelle Dennison
as Church Lady
Sonia Spyve
as Court Lawyer
Timothy Herbert
as Court Lawyer
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Critic Reviews for Hunt for the Wilderpeople

All Critics (169) | Top Critics (31)

Gentle and appealing performances can't rescue this facile and cloying comedy.

December 29, 2016 | Full Review…
New Yorker
Top Critic

[Its] sheer good-naturedness pulls off a not particularly inspired crusty-old-coot-thawed-by-young-scamp concept, maintaining an agreeable tonal balance despite occasional wobbles between spoof, sentimentality and silliness.

December 29, 2016 | Full Review…
Top Critic

One of the most sincere and funny portraits of family life to come along in a while.

December 29, 2016 | Full Review…
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

This might be the best kids' movie since Up.

September 13, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is a hoot with heart.

July 15, 2016 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Detroit News
Top Critic

Director Taika Waititi proves expert in his management of tone, such that the farcical elements, however numerous, don't detract from the very real friendship the renegades develop as they elude the world's most dedicated social services officer.

July 14, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
San Diego Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Hard to put into words how much I loved this film, but if I could do it well there would be a variant of "magic" among them. Like Waititi's "Boy" before it, this is a movie that carries the joy and wonder of childhood into the painful realities of the adult world. Brilliant and unconventional coming-of-age story; realistic but whimsical, too. Highly recommend!

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


With an excellent direction by Taika Waititi (who always finds ways to surprise me) and great performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison, this is a funny and refreshing sweet road movie (or in this case "bush movie") that makes us laugh out loud with its offbeat humor.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


After the hilarious vampire comedy, What We Do In The Shadows in 2014, there was much anticipation for Taika Waititi's next film. Hunt For a the Wilderpeople has now arrived and arrived to yet more critical acclaim. The positivity surrounding it, however, has also been its slight undoing for me. It's an admirable little adventure but it didn't quite strike the chord that I was expecting. Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a young delinquent sent to live with his Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) on their remote farm. But when his aunt passes away, child welfare want to relocate Ricky. This forces him and his Uncle to go on the run throughout the New Zealand bush as a national manhunt is ordered to capture them. Despite the dark edge to What We Do In The Shadows, Waititi's deftness was in finding a lighter tone and cleverly tapping into vampire folklore to provide the laughs. It was a playful and kind-hearted satire that hit all the right notes. With Hunt For the Wilderpeople, he, once again, displays a kind hearted nature and taps into the angle of a pair of mis-matched misfits on a journey of self-discovery. Amiable as it is, though, it just doesn't have the laughs that made his previous film so successful. That's not to say, that this film isn't an enjoyable experience. It has plenty going for it. For a start, the two leads in Sam Neill and young Julian Dennison are an absolute treat. Their camaraderie and wit is infectious and they both embrace their characters with a genuine sentimentality. Neill's surly old codger and Dennison's haiku writing, wannabe rapper are a joy to watch and they're given fine support in the early part of the film by the hugely enjoyable Rima Te Wiata (Housebound). It's the characters and their quirky humour that Waititi captures very well but it's was, sadly, the narrative (based on Barry Crump's novel) that I didn't find as engaging as it could've been. It's a pleasant journey with a fine balance of humour and pathos but, to be quite honest, I found it became rather lethargic and overstayed its welcome. Waititi tries to inject a quicker pace with some action in the final third - which is unashamedly reminiscent of Thelma & Louise - but it feels misjudged and out of place. However, fans of the Thor franchise might take some positivity from Waititi being selected for the next instalment as he showcases his ability to stage bigger scenes. Without question, though, Waititi's film looks beautiful and his picturesque New Zealand locations are quite stunning and he makes fitting use of music throughout. In a different frame of mind, I think I could've enjoyed Hunt For the Wilderpeople more than I did. It's one of those films were my expectations were so high, that it was always going to be a stretch to meet my demands. There's some impressive work on show but, ultimately, this is nothing more than a delightful little adventure that encourages a mild chuckle rather than belly laughs. Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

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