Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pretty magestical, eh?

When you're a kid, you think I can't wait till I'm an adult. Then everything will be easier because I'll be in charge. And this makes sense, because, even when you're not f--king up (inadvertently or otherwise), people are still always telling you what to do. Because, you know, they know what's best.

And when you finally do grow up, however, finally become that adult you've longed to be? Hell, you look at any kid that crosses your path and think these lucky shits don't know how easy they have it. 

But as someone who both was a kid and has a kid (two, actually), I'm at the point where I think I've finally got it all totally figured out. It's readily apparent to me that both how you grow up and how you end up are tied to one simple concept, known by every single culture walking the planet today.

Luck. It's all f--king luck.

As luck would have it, last Friday night, my wife and I chanced upon a showing of the utterly brilliant Hunt for the Wilderpeople. While it's not like I drove the entire thirty miles blindfolded in a sandstorm or what have you, but many seemingly random factors made Taika Watiti's latest the only movie we could see. And without really knowing what I was getting into, let me be very clear when I tell you: I f--king loved this movie. So much in fact, it's almost like fate brought us together.

Ricky Baker (an impeccably deadpan Julian Dennison) is a shit. In and out of trouble for most of his young life, we meet this (apparent) little f--ker after he's been dropped off at the home of his latest set of foster parents, Aunt Bella and Uncle Hec. Ricky isn't impressed, and actually strolls right back into the police car that brought him to their isolated, New Zealand farm. But Bella persists, and eventually wins the kid over. Uncle Hec (Sam Neil, kicking as much ass as ever) is not as impressed, however, and would be more than okay if the kid left him the Hell alone. Ricky's actually kind of cool with this...

...until Aunt Bella suddenly passes away. And Hec's ready to send the kid back.

So Ricky does what any juvenile delinquent would do. He fakes his own death (horribly), gets a gun, grabs his dog/best friend Tupac, and runs the Hell away.

But Ricky, not surprising any one that knows a twelve year-old boy (and their sense of direction/level of dedication), doesn't get too far, and Uncle Hec finds him early the next day. Hec also finds a tree root, too, and royally f--ks up his foot when he trips over it. Seems like these two are going to be stuck in the bush awhile.



Sure, the bones of the plot are about as creative as a special two-part episode of Perfect Strangers, and the ending just as surprising, but the real magic of this film lies in the journey, and the exquisite chemistry between Dennison and Neil. The relationship that these two forge along the way is absolute magic, entirely capable of actually making the world exponentially better. Fine, maybe that's a slight exaggeration but I left the theater 900 times happier than when I arrived. And I was on a date. With my wife. In her work clothes. And we had just eaten macaroni and cheese sandwiches.

What isn't hyperbole in the least, and also worth mentioning, is the sly (and incessant) comedy of the script and how it's deftly delivered by every single person who appears on screen. Seriously. Find me a cast of characters more delightfully charming/totally f--king hilarious than everyone in Hunt for the Wilderpeople and we're probably watching an episode of Flight of the Conchords...which is basically cheating.

Also not playing fair, are those Kiwi-loving Yays and Boos. Perhaps my undying affection for this film has something to do with the fact that I knew nothing about it beforehand (or it could be my insatiable desire to visit/somehow be from the South Pacific). Translation: if you want to enjoy this one even more, bugger off.

I hope Netflix alerts me when these two get their own show.
  • My God, the authorities are fantastic. Paula (Rachel House) is impossibly hilarious, but don't sleep on her partner, Andy (Oscar Knightley), either. He's giving that pig a piggyback.
  • Man, Ricky's room is awesomely terrible. I'm not really a fan of more than one lamp, but I do support giving the kid a knife. For killing monsters.
  • Yo, Aunt Bella's sweater game is no joke. As is her ability to drop a birthday jam on you. Ricky Bake-ah. Oh oooohh. 
  • Ricky, a true product of the system, has been giving countless coping mechanisms. My favorite? Haiku. Especially the one about maggots.
  • Holy shit the Burger ring door nonsense almost made that scene my funeral. 
  • Sam Neil, until this point, was to forever to be known as Dr. Alan Grant. Then came Uncle Hec and his priceless reaction to just about everything he sees and hears having to do with Ricky. No lie, you guys. Neil's f--king brilliant here. Like, so much so, I was pretty much bawling at the end...and it wasn't even that serious.
  • Ricky is such a badass. Like, the good kind. His ill dance moves are just the tip of the iceberg.
  • But it's his chill reaction to seeing the girl of his dreams where he really earned my respect. Keep it cool, Ricky. Keep it cool.
  • Oh, and speaking of the girl? Has there ever been a sweeter teenage girl than Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne? This chick is too rad, I'm telling you. But, I guess she should be pretty cool, you know, considering her dad is one of the chillest motherf--kers ever.
  • I loved the dogs, Zag and Tupac. Sadly, more on them in the Boos...*begins to tear up*
  • I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but Rhys Darby shows up, minus the Swearwolves, and owns the five minutes he gets. Please, someone...make this guy a bigger
  • And finally, speaking of big stars, fingers crossed that Julian Dennison becomes one if that's what this kid wants. Even with a great script, breathtaking scenery, an excellent supporting cast and a stellar Sam Neil, Dennison owns this movie top-to-bottom. He so carefully reveals Ricky's shitty life, you know? Even as funny and uplifting as everything is, it's actually kind of heart-breaking, too. Dennison simply nails it.
This is how Uncle Hec deals with people he likes. 
Just kidding. He doesn't like anyone.
  • Aunt Bella probably makes some mean bacon, right? But that bacon's fresh. Graphically fresh.
  • Poor Hec somehow ends up known as a crazy Asian kidnapper. 
  • He would just make my play with myself...
  • Good God, Park Ranger Guy? I've probably never laughed harder at someone else's misfortune. Well, lately, anyway.
  • This really feels like something we could have used Jemaine Clement in, even for a just a glorious minute.
  • Stay moldy, bro. Dad, I love you, but that's a lot of selfies, mate. 
  • Time flies when you're having fun/on the run. The, um, passage of time is something we just have to accept because we're told too, if that makes sense. (but I'm cool with that)
  • Zag. (I cried).
  • Uncle Hec's relentless belief that he doesn't want or need Ricky was devastating. Repeatedly.
  • And finally, and this is an easy Boo, but why is it so hard to see something so fantastic as this? I enjoyed Hunt for the Wilderpeople more than almost everything else I've seen this summer combined, and no one I know will see it, I'm sure of it. Look, I know Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates...but f--k those guys, you know?
We all know you can't choose your family. Your siblings, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, the whole thing is a f--king crapshoot, honestly. Maybe you'll get along with these people, maybe you won't. Maybe they'll accept you and take care of you...and sadly, maybe they won't. 

How much this bothers you is yet another massive variable (you may not give a shit either way), as is whether or not you should be around these people in the first place. Some parents? Those miserable bastards probably shouldn't have had kids in the first place.

But no matter what, somewhere out there, somewhere there are a people who will flat-out adore you and everything about you. All you have to do is find them.

Good luck!


  1. Sam Neill is still alive?!?!?! My GOD yes, LOVE him!!! I had no idea this was a thing, but I'll be sure to check it out. This post, obviously, is fate bringing this movie to me ;-)

    1. Man...if you even remotely LIKE Sam Neil, this is going to be in your top 20 all-time. He's hysterical in it, and badass.

      Let me know when you see it! I may have fallen too hard for it, and you can straighten me out. (It might have been the mac and cheese sandwiches that influenced me. [And the work clothes]).

    2. Oh, I will let you know ASAP!

      I'm really excited for this one :-)

  2. I saw this at Tribeca and adored it but then, I love EVERYTHING Waititi does.

    1. Yeah, put me in that camp, too - the one that loves everything the guy does. Hell, I watched him doing some red carpet stuff on YouTube and he's somehow even more likable than he is in his films...if that's even possible.

      I am so pumped for his crack at Thor. Should be the funniest Marvel movie, yet.

  3. Love it! This movie has been in cinemas here since May and STILL going strong. Everything drops out after 3-4 weeks, but not Wilderpeople. I think the local arthouse theatre is still showing it 5-6 times a day. Crazy stuff.

    Great review, I'm glad you loved it. It's one of those movies that really scoops you up and takes you along for a good time. I can't wait to see it again :)

    1. Hey man, like I said, I have to personally thank you for this one. I would have never even had any interest or knowledge about this brilliant film without reading about it on your site. And the fact that Sam Neil read this review (or at least part of it)...made my day 100x over. Again, I thank you for that!!

      As for what you said about this movie still kicking ass down there? That's PERFECT. I wish my local theater would follow suit!

      Yes!! I'm going to have to buy it (and I gave up buying movies years ago)

    2. That's awesome man - nothing like Twitter to break down the walls/distance between celebs and the rest of us plebs haha ;)

  4. I'm so glad you loved this film. I couldn't stop talking about when I saw it. You're right, it is one of the best film I've seen all year!! It was so hilarious, just reading your yays and boos reminded me of some brilliant moments. The Terminator line got me, still laughing about it. I saw this film at a festival, its premiere. All I knew was that it was directed by Taika Watiti. The element of surprise was a huge help. But I still think its brilliant. Now i;ve seen the trailer, I need to see it again and it gets a release here mid SEpt.

    You're also right about a small release. Although, it was the biggest grossing film in New Zealand, ever. I think. So that might mean it gets a proper run.

    Anyway lets share the love for this!

    1. If I was still at work right now, I'd be demanding that my co-workers go check this out immediately (I'm a teacher at a middle school), and probably yammering on about it to my class, too. Currently, I've just been badgering my family...without much luck.

      That's fantastic seeing this at a festival. I would have been so pumped for that! I really knew almost nothing about it heading in, other than an interview I read with Dennison. Man, that kid was fantastic!

      That's fantastic that New Zealand has continued to support it so passionately. Brilliant!

  5. I saw this turn up on a few "must see" lists this year and I've been interested ever since.

    Now I'm a little freaked out because there's apparently a dog death. I hate that. So when should I hit fast forward/cover my eyes? lol

    1. Ah, it's so good Brittani. I think you'll totally dig it. I honestly don't think I'll see anything better this year.

      Um, I forget exactly when it happens, but just to be safe, maybe just close your eyes for the last thirty minutes or so. Maybe forty.