Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a troubled kid, a real bad egg. At least, that’s how the system has labeled him. Shuttled from foster home to foster home, he’s—supposedly—a delinquent of unprecedented proportions, guilty of the following crimes, according to his social worker: disobedience, stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, loitering, and graffiti. Of course, Ricky’s actually an entirely normal 13-year-old boy, albeit one that’s been dealt a very shitty hand. Things finally seem to turn around for Ricky once he meets his newest foster family: Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), who live miles from anywhere that could be called civilized. Hec prefers to be left alone and spends most of his time out hunting in the New Zealand bush, but Bella becomes a surprisingly effective mother figure to Ricky; she’s not offended by his sullenness and gives him plenty of room to work through his adolescent anger. Sure, Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s scope is small, but it gives you everything you could want from a movie: It’s smart, emotional, and even a bit action-packed once Ricky and Hec embark on an unplanned adventure in the forest. But most of all, it’s funny. So, so funny. 

  NED LANNAMANN

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