Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Film, Comedy
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(12user reviews)
Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This charming and offbeat comedy from one of the extended 'Flight of the Conchords' family is a kid-friendly treat (if you don't mind the odd pervert joke)

Taika Waititi – a core member of the New Zealand hipster comedy group responsible for ‘Flight of the Conchords’ – rambles into sort-of-family-movie territory in this massively endearing road movie on foot. There’s a strong whiff of ‘Up’ in its story about a chubby boy and an old man setting off on a jungle adventure. And indeed this might be the best kids’ movie since Pixar’s masterpiece (with a spot of bad language and several jokes about perverts thrown in).

Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a 12-year-old tearaway from the big city who isn’t happy about being sent to live in the sticks with foster parents Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). Of course it’s not long before, in time-honoured kids’-book fashion, Ricky settles into the country life with his dog, Tupac. But when tragedy strikes, Ricky and Hec are forced to go on the run.

‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ isn’t quite perfect: ‘Conchords’ veteran Rhys Darby makes an irritating late cameo. But overall this is an absolute pleasure. There are times when Waititi’s script borders on genius. One gag about the word ‘caucasian’ is priceless, while Ricky’s habit of writing haikus to express his feelings is both hilarious and, by the end, genuinely moving. Hunt it down


Release details

Release date:
Friday September 16 2016
101 mins

Cast and crew

Taika Waititi
Sam Neill
Julian Dennison
Rima Te Wiata

Users say (12)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Quite possibly my favourite feel-good movie of the moment. Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker is a true star! I didn't expect to laugh out loud as much as I did, but this script - and the brilliant chemistry between Dennison and Sam Neil - had me in hysterics. A must watch!


This film is the antithesis of a Hollywood movie. It feels home made and local, it is all the better for it. It is set in New Zealand, it has New Zealanders as characters and it shows a New Zealand ethic to the world. It is a rough film with a warm heart, about a grumpy old man and a juvenile misfit who don't understand each other but look after each other's welfare when needed. It is not a perfect film but it doesn't set out to be and that is part of its charm. It is a strange mixture of rural realism and wild fantasy. Some of the characters, especially the baddies are comic book caricature. It is chock full of great lines and the good characters are well defined, quirky and warm. Sam Neill is good as Hec, and Julian Dennison is excellent as Ricky. The scenery is obviously amazing set as it is in outback New Zealand, The soundtrack too is quirky and endearing. I love a film that manages to surprise you, and I hope the success of this results in more of this type of film being made.


I love this movie! Simply put the story is about two lonely people in the New Zealand bush running away from a society that has no place for them. One is gruff and stoic Hector (Sam Neil) and the precocious and seemingly resilient 13 year old Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison). A pretty standard "overcoming differences to find they have something in common" story made absolutely charming and heartfelt by Neil and Dennison's performances. A very quirky and off-beat comedy. Its quick paced and balances more emotional moments with brilliant comedic interaction between Hector and Ricky. Brilliant find on Netflix!


In the same vein as a New Zealand "Up", Hunt for the Wilderpeople portrays a grizzled and emotionally guarded loner (Sam Neill) who learns to connect through his journey with a similar lonely young soul (Julian Dennison). The comedy and drama are heart felt and affectionate (even if the characters would snort with derision at such emotion). New Zealand's stunning environment once again becomes the feature of helicopter sweeping shots as we follow the two characters and their flight from the authorities who would hunt them down and tear them apart. 

A beautiful film and an engaging story that stirs even the most reluctant of stony hearts.


An incredibly quirky and borderline slapstick film that is essentially Wes Anderson meets Flight Of The Conchords (that is certainly not a bad thing). It's charming, funny and is basically a tourism advert for New Zealand. The relationship between Ricky and Hec develops brilliantly despite their initial differences. It's a very easy watch and even the darkest of souls would surely find it difficult not to enjoy it


Pretty hilarious movie, very easy to watch.

The storyline focuses on a troubled teen (Ricky Baker played by Julian Dennison) sent away to a foster family (with the lovely "Aunt Bella", Rima Te Wiata, and the grumpy "Uncle Hec", Sam Neill) in the country side. At the beginning the relations between Ricky and Hec are cold but as soon as they decide to runaway together un the bush, they start trusting each other and getting on really well.

Even though the end in quite obvious, I didn't think this movie was too long or boring.

It's pretty nicely done, Dennison and Neill make an adorable pair and some jokes are literally priceless.

Definitely a great family friendly movie!!


If it's one film that went under the radar and deserves more views, it's this one. Taika Watiti's previous film What We Do In The Shadows was a mockumentary masterpiece, but it's Hunt For The Wilderpeople that brings his directorial capabilities to new heights. 

After being mistakenly identified as a kidnapping, dysfunctional odd couple Hector and adopted juvenile delinquent Ricky decide to go with the flow and live as 'wilderpeople'. It's a strange journey they embark on as they risk being hunted down by child services and bounty hunters. And it's a lot of fun. With his typical off kilter style of jokes and improbable situations, there's plenty of laugh out loud moments to be had, particularly with Watiti favourite Rhys Darby, who manages to leave a solid impression and delivers the lines despite his very limited screentime, and late appearance. Along the way though, Wilderpeople is also a surprisingly touching film, where the jokes are interspersed with lavish, gasp-worthy New Zealand scenery, as well as the occasional throwaway line that resonates deep with the soul. 

Being able to bring both warmth and humour together organically is a true challenge, and it's amazing how Watiti has managed to one up himself after his cult humour type style has already taken off. If you're looking for a warm yet extremely funny comedy that you haven't seen yet, Wilderpeople is a refreshingly original choice you should consider.


This film definitely falls under the category of 'heart warming'. Ricky and his uncle end up on an accidental adventure when Ricky runs away and their disappearance triggers a national man hunt. 

As the adventure continues Ricky's relationship develops and you can't help cheering them on as the evade the overzealous and menacing agent from the child protection agency and a group of hunters.

You'll laugh, you may cry and you'll probably cringe, but you will definitely enjoy this film if you like odd ball comedies.


This is a great "feel good" movie. A young lad (Julian Dennison) in childcare is put into the hands of a foster family,

and an adventure starts when he runs away & is joined by his foster dad (Sam Neill). Dennison & Neill develop a relationship, which is great fun, and highly amusing. In short a refreshing delight. 


‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ is beyond charming. It’s beyond heartfelt. It’s beyond funny. It’s one of the loveliest, sweetest, drollest films I’ve had the pleasure of watching in a very long time and I can’t urge you enough to step away from the current glut of superheroes & sequels and to venture into the glorious, forested New Zealand countryside for a while.

Taika Waititi, mastermind behind vampiric comedy ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ and TV’s ‘Flight of the Concordes’, brings together newcomer Julian Dennison as Ricky, product of the child social services system who’s been bounced around from one foster home to another with Sam Neill’s grizzled Hec and Rima Te Wiata’s kindly Bella. After unexpected tragedy strikes (nicely and never exploitatively handled), Ricky and Hec find themselves on a journey of self-discovery that’s both heart-tuggingly bittersweet and spit-out-your-popcorn hilarious.

There are some killer one liners in this movie – you’ll never look at a Caucasian the same way again – as well as scenes that have me laughing out loud even now, days after seeing it – watch it and tell me the birthday cake song isn’t one of the best things you’ve seen on the big screen this year. Dennison is note perfect as the overweight, shy teenage misfit who discovers that it’s ok to want to be wanted while Sam Neill is immaculate as always – his entrance under the weight of 2016’s hairiest wildest celluloid pig is a thing of beauty.

Rachel House and Waititi favourite Rhys Darby also provide flawlessly funny support and every single word from every single person feels beautifully natural and empathetic. There’s not an ounce of flab on this script which allows silence to shine through when appropriate.

Shot over five weeks in the frozen wintery wilderness of New Zealand, there’s a lovely score from Lukasz Pawel Buda, Samuel Scott and Conrad Wedde which never overwhelms what’s happening on screen and the action is joyfully mellow and restrained; there’s no urge to slam fifty things at a time into your eyeballs until you’re exhausted beyond the point of comprehension. If you like watching things at the cinema that are a bit unusual and a little off mainstream, this is 101 minutes of brave, original and sincerely wonderful film-making.


The first time I came across Taika Waititi's work was watching What We Do In The Shadows while on an Emirates flight from Dubai to London. I was laughing out loud, much to the bemusement of my fellow travellers and flight staff. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an even better and funnier film showcasing not only Kiwi humour but also some of its beautiful scenery.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows the story of Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), an orphaned city kid described as 'a really bad egg' by his Child Protection Officer Paula, who having been dropped off at his new home, finds it lacking and decides to run away. However, when he is eventually won over by the love shown by his 'Aunty' Bella (with pancakes also playing a part), tragedy strikes and he is forced to take to the bush in order to escape from being returned to a juvenile detention centre. Being a city kid, he doesn't make it very far and is soon caught up by his 'Uncle' Hec, a loner bushman who at first wants to return Ricky to the authorities so he can be left alone to deal with his grief.
Having lived with a few Kiwis in a house share in London over the years, I recognised Julian Dennison (Ricky) from a hilarious Kiwi ad (Blazed - Drug Driving in Aotearoa - also by Taika Waititi) and he is most definitely an exciting talent. It's his relationship with Sam Neill playing the gruff but loving loner bushman that is at the very basis of this film. The manhunt for the two 'wilderpeople' does almost reach silliness but it's forgiven and balanced out by the charming relationship between the two main characters, Ricky and Hec.
New Zealanders should be proud immensely proud of this film. It's exciting to see what Taika Waititi does with the Thor franchise.