Friday, March 17, 2017

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This movie, filmed and produced in New Zealand, is a funny, offbeat yet poignant story about city dwelling, foster boy Ricky Baker and the rural couple who care for him, Bella and Hec (Sam Neill). 

Ricky has reached the end of the line of foster carers, and is known by authorities as a “bad egg”.   Bella, with her patient, loving, no-nonsense care slowly develops a loving relationship with Ricky, while Hec watches from the sideline.  Tragedy strikes, leaving Hec and Ricky to fend for themselves. 
Ricky decides he’s not going back to the foster care system and runs away.   Hec finds him but a broken ankle forces them to camp in the bush for six weeks.  Upon their return, they realise they are the object of a major manhunt, with Hec assumed to have kidnapped Ricky. 

We watched it as a family, and reflected that Miss 9.5 was probably too young for it, she didn’t grasp the story, didn’t really get the humour and found some of the subject matter a bit confronting.   Miss (almost) 12 enjoyed it and Mr (almost) 14, like us, thought some parts were hysterical, and they also grasped the depth of what was happening. 

There was a fair bit of low-level language (bastard, sh*t, etc), several references to the (mistaken) assumption that Hec has molested Ricky, and some violent animal death scenes (hunting wild pig). Unfortunately, the only reflection on Christianity was a very incompetent minister at a funeral.   The characterisation of the foster care worker is very funny, although not particularly complementary to those who work in the system.  So, discretion is clearly needed with this one and which children you would show it to.

For families with young teens this could be a good, quirky choice about real people with real issues, from a mostly light-hearted point of view.

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