Hunt for the Wilderpeople was one of the very best films of 2016. Annemarie was lucky enough to start her new year by watching it. And now she gets the absolute joy of starting of this article. Tell me, AM, how much did you love this movie? Why did I make you watch it? Is Ricky Baker also your spirit animal?
A: I didn’t love this movie. I LOVED this movie. Anything that’s set in New Zealand (there’s nothing wrong with NZ and in fact it’s on the short list to visit, but foreign films can be different and not relatable, that’s all) and spearheaded by a child actor is bound to make me raise my eyebrows about how good it really could be, but this film is so fantastic in so many ways. A truly good film will make us want to talk about it long after we’ve seen it and this one hit the nail on the head, in addition to making me laugh out loud during the viewing. A lot.
Ricky Baker is probably the best and funniest character I’ve encountered thus far in Required Viewing. He’s a reckless teenage kid who’s been left behind by his parents and the system and finds himself with one last shot at domestic tranquillity on a remote farm — fail at this, and juvie is next. He’s got every reason to be bitter and awful, and yet he’s not. He’s a bit of a pill, but a lovable and adventurous pill that you totally would want to hang out with and perhaps sing with. I’ll stop here and post the video those of us who’ve seen the film are probably still humming:
It especially kills me that Ricky sings along to his song, the personalized equivalent to singing along to “Happy Birthday” when it’s supposed to be sung to you, not by you. I love this scene so much, and upon second and third viewings, if you just look at what Sam Neill is doing, it makes it better. He does not share his wife’s affinity for the boy and no one seems to notice or care.
For all of this, and so much more, is why you made us watch this film. What other moments are your favorite?What especially Kiwi things likely went over our heads since we’re Americans? Would you name your dog Tupac? Also, everyone go look at Ricky’s IMDB profile picture… I’ll wait.
B: Admittedly, I knew you LOVED it, but I wanted to hear you say it. Or at least see you type it. This movie was actually one of the first things I wrote about on this site. We weren’t even live yet, it was a launch piece. I loved it then and if possible, I love it even more now. So, I was thrilled to see how much it thrilled you and everyone else who watched with us. You pretty well captured my adoration for Ricky Baker, but you also wisely pointed out that there are many other reasons. One of the major ones was Bella, played by Rima Te Wiata — her performance in the film may be brief, but it is one of the best of the year. If she doesn’t get an Oscar nomination there is no justice in this world. Call me dramatic, but it’s true. She was wonderful.
Apart from the Trifecta song, I have extremely deep affection for Ricky and Bella’s chats about Ricky running away, Ricky’s bonding sessions with Tupac and every single time Ricky and Hec go gangster on some people. “Shit. Just. Got. Real.” Oh, and lest we forget, Ricky’s banter with Paula, as seen here:
I’m sure there are quite a lot of things we missed as Americans that we aren’t even aware of having missed. But having seen this movie three times now, I’ve picked up on a few things. Hot water bottles in beds are a thing, and they are called “hotties” — I want that in my life. You can “go bush” just like Australian-based movies tell me you can in Australia. There are all sorts of snack foods happening in New Zealand that we’re not privy to, but I’m reasonably sure I don’t want a burger ring.
I probably would not name my dog Tupac— that would make me a poser since the only Tupac jam I know is thanks to Pitch Perfect, but I did name a dog Arya Stark, so I feel like Ricky and I would get along.
AM, how long do you think you could have made it on the run in the bush? If you were in Broken Foot Camp could you have made as many whimsical and amusing creations as Ricky Baker?
A: Wait, which Tupac song is featured in Pitch Perfect? I know the Bone Thugs N Harmony song that Anna Kendrick does in the Riff-Off, but where does Tupac show up?
Back on topic. I am similarly inspired to tuck myself into bed with a hottie, but I have to say I’d totally try burger rings. Crispy chip rings that taste like hamburger? That sounds just strange enough to be amazing. I don’t know if Kiwis (hopefully that’s a correct and non-offensive term for New Zealand residents…) also eat Vegemite, but I can unequivocally say that’s the worst thing I’d eaten before I tried fermented shark in Iceland last year.
Not only did you name a dog Arya (her name befits her personality wonderfully), but you went rogue and named her sister Sansa even though the actual owners named her something different and less Game of Thrones-y. So yes, you and Ricky would get along famously for that reason and I also can picture you singing along to a birthday song written in your honor. And going gangster in the bush.
I feel like I would have been a few days into my excursion into the bush and as soon as it started to rain or snow, I’d be out. I’m a delicate flower, after all. I do like camping, but for like one or two nights, max. But that’s me, and if I was in a different situation where I was being hunted by Child Protective Services I think I’d do what Ricky and Hector do and bail into the bush for months at a time.
Broken Foot Camp was just the start of the amazing adventure, and I’d be first and foremost concerned with the fact that you kind of need a doctor’s attention when you have a broken foot, so I think that would have clouded the joy for me. Given that this is fictional story (unless Ricky Baker is real and we need to take a field trip to the New Zealand bush immediately), I do enjoy the whimsy and intricacy of the creativity at the camp and how it sets up the misunderstanding that keeps our heroes in the bush for the long haul.
Also 100% agree that Rima as well as Sam deserve nominations for supporting work, and our pal Julian should also be in the lead actor category. What are the odds that any one of the three get nods, never mind wins? Any final thoughts on this wonderful bit of filmmaking? Are we going to get to Lord of the Rings soon so I can get the fantasy version of NZ and also make our friend Daniel not so rage-y that I’ve never seen or read those stories?
B: Dammit, I knew I should have googled that. I was thinking “No Diggity” is a Tupac joint, but really it’s Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre, which they say in the lyrics. Sigh, disregard. But you see what I mean about knowing nothing about Tupac. And yes, when you write be a birthday Trifecta song I will absolutely sing along to it.
I think it’s a VERY long shot that anyone from this movie gets any form of a nomination, but just know I am out there stumping for them.
It is nearly time we get to the Lord of the Rings saga. It was a sad time when you had to laugh at the LoTR reference without realizing the full hilarity of it. We’ll take care of that for you. And Daniel will be so pleased to know that you just asked for NINE PLUS hours of high fantasy.
As for closing thoughts on Hunt for the Wilderpeople, I can only say if you don’t listen to us and watch this movie, you’re missing out on immeasurable joy. We didn’t choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose us.
A: Because we’ve stayed off topic thus far, I thought I’d jump in and point out that you thought “No Diggity” was by Tupac and I thought it was by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony… and we were both so totally wrong. And, I’m slightly frightened by the prospect of NINE hours of anything, but I relish the challenge and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, if not outright love it.
We’re staying with lighthearted fare for a bit with the next installment and the lesser-known Dick Van Dyke movie musical that’s not Mary Poppins. Stay tuned for the reveal!