The Daily Cup 31 Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.

My favorite movies embrace fun, but they also don’t sugar coat reality either. Trying to balance a heartfelt film with the harsh realities of life can be a challenge, unless of course you are Taika Waititi. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) is the third feature film from the writer/director/actor. This may be my favorite film of his, and certainly cements him as one of my favorite filmmakers working today.

The film centers around Ricky (Julian Dennison) a child cycling through the New Zealand child welfare system. He’s a bad egg as described by social worker Paula (Rachel House) when he is dropped off at a rural farm with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Herc (Sam Neill). Ricky is obsessed with hip hop culture and considers himself a “gangster” and is wildly out of place on a farm. The love and patience of Bella and the stoicism of Herc soon lead to him adapting to his new environment and it becoming a home for him. His new, love filled life is torn apart when Bella suddenly dies. Ricky runs away into the bush, sacred and unwilling to return to foster care anywhere else. Herc chases after him and they soon band together to escape authorities in the New Zealand wilds.

The woodland adventure of the film is an amazing journey of Herc and Ricky bonding and forming a friendship as they live of the land and elude the authorities over a period of several weeks. They hunt together, outwit hunter bros, and get into an amazing car chase throughout their adventures. The chemistry between Sam Neill and Julian Dennison is infections and a true joy. The grow and become two people who need each other after the most important woman in their lives passes away. Also in this part of the film is a fantastic small role from Rhys Darby that is quintessential Rhys Darby.

Shit's about to get real.

Shit's about to get real.

What is most impressive to me is that while the movie is often farcical and embraces the absurd, it also highlights the real fear and emotions the characters have. We learn that Ricky is afraid to return to the foster care system because of another child in the system he knew died under foster care. Herc confides in Ricky about the older man’s illiteracy. Both Rocky and Herc bond together over their love of Bella and honoring her in a sweet moment where their spread her ashes in a “magestical” place.

Once again Waititi has crafted a script that will have you laughing one moment, and crying the next. I don’t know how this man knows how to pull your emotional heartstrings so well, but he is a wizard at it. The delightful script is also paired with some fantastic cinematography that really make great use of the beauty of the New Zealand wilderness. The performances from the cast are genuine and personal, and you will be rooting for them every minute of this delightful, amazing film.


Movies new to me watched: 24/292

Other movies: 7/73

Total movies watched: 31/365

Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at or on Twitter at @kbdekker.