Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

(New Zealand, 2016)

This movie tries very hard to be liked, and I really wanted to like it, I really did. It’s about a twelve-year-old boy in New Zealand, a kid who gets in trouble a lot. He is placed in a foster home way, way out in the bush, where he quickly learns to like the first real home he has ever had. But the nice woman who takes care of him dies suddenly and he is left with her grumpy, anti-social friend, played by Sam Neill. Now Social Services is coming to get him and place him in Juvenile Hall. So they head off into the deep wilderness, bonding along the way.

It was off to a good start, but eventually became cartoonish. The social worker who is after them would have frightened Hitler. She soon has half the New Zealand military after the pair, dressed in full SWAT attire, carrying assault weapons, driving Armored Personnel Carriers. To say this is an over-reaction is putting it very mildly. It’s too bad, because they had the beginnings of a nice, if unoriginal, story going before they blew it.