As the movie opens, a social worker named Paula, played by Rachel House, is delivering an overweight young teen boy named Ricky, played by Julian Dennison, to a new home in a remote, rural area. Bella, played by Rima de Wiata, welcomes Ricky warmly, in spite of the long string of previous problems that Paula recites to her. Hec, played by Sam Neill, also lives there, and Bella tells Ricky he can call them Auntie and Uncle, if he wants to. After being shuffled around for years and generally unwanted, Ricky is understandably doubting and distrustful. He even tries to run away, but Bella's warmth and kindness eventually win him over. Then tragedy hits, and through a series of events, Ricky ends up in the bush (wilderness) with Hec, who's been injured. The two of them work together to make a camp for themselves until Hec's ankle heals enough that they can walk back home. When they're on the move again, though, six weeks later, they discover that there is a national manhunt going on ... to find the two of them! As the authorities have completely misunderstood their absence and want to take them both into custody, the pair decide to just stay out there. Many adventures follow!
We loved absolutely everything about this unique movie! The pairing of a difficult teen and a grumpy old man might seem a bit trite, but it is wholly original here, with the actors playing Hec and Ricky both doing an outstanding job in their roles. The more time they spend together alone, the closer the two misfits become, as they help each other to heal. This is truly an adventure movie, action-packed with plenty of suspense, but there is wonderful humor woven into every scene and a warmth that made us both smile throughout the film. I think this is my favorite movie of the year! We both laughed and enjoyed every moment of this uplifting movie. I think we could all use a little Ricky and Hec right now.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is currently available on Netflix or to rent on Amazon, starting at $2.99 (or $6.99 to own) - definitely worth it!