Taika Waititi's Hunt For the Wilderpeople 'a deliciously good time'

Kiwi crowds won't get to see Taika Waititi's new film until March, but early reviews suggest we're in for a treat.

Waititi's Hunt for The Wilderpeople, based on Barry Crump's bestseller Wild Pork and Watercress, stars Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House and Oscar Kightley, and is the follow-up to the director's 2014 hit What We Do in the Shadows.

The film, a comedy about a boy called Ricky (Dennison) who goes bush with his foster uncle (Neill) to avoid being placed in a foster home, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend, and many major publications posted promising reviews online.

The Hollywood Reporter called it a "deliciously good time at the movies" and said it was Waititi's "biggest and most ambitious film to date".

"Waititi is most famous internationally for his comedic work ... and his nimble adaptation here combines solid writing with an entire bag of filmmaking tricks that includes visual gags, unexpected cuts and quick montage sequences to score laughs from the get-go," wrote reviewer Boyd van Hoeij.

"He also cleverly exploits who these people are to get the audience in stitches."

Variety's review was also positive, praising the film's "spectacular scenery".

It said the film's "sheer good-naturedness pulls off a not particularly inspired crusty-old-coot-thawed-by-young-scamp concept, maintaining an agreeable tonal balance despite occasional wobbles between spoof, sentimentality and silliness".

But reviewer Dennis Harvey also warned there was "a cornier, more formulaic core here than in the writer-helmer's prior successes Boy and What We Do in the Shadows that may comparatively limit its offshore prospects".

The Guardian gave the film a three-star review, saying the performances of the film's leads kept it grounded.

"As the proceedings grow increasingly more far-fetched, the story starts to feel thinner, any semblance of reality increasingly abandoned. What keeps Hunt for the Wilderpeople afloat are the full-blooded characters that populate it," wrote reviewer Nigel M Smith.

Hunt For the Wilderpeople hits New Zealand cinemas on March 31.

- nzherald.co.nz

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