COMEDY; 1hr 41min
STARRING: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata
Dennison (left) and Neill
"The Real Bad Egg" in Chapter One of filmmaker Taika Waititi's rompish Wilderpeople is 13-year-old Ricky Baker (Dennison), dumped by the New Zealand system into foster care with farmers Bella and Hector Faulkner (Te Wiata and Neill). Bella is all motherly smiles — Hector not so much as his wife's snarly opposite — and once in her sunny orbit, Ricky, whose previous offences include stealing and graffiti, begins to warm to the world. His peace with it is short-lived, however: after Bella departs the scene, Ricky goes bush, closely followed by Hector, who can't abide the kid but won't abandon him, either. Let the fugitive bonding — and widespread notoriety — begin.
We're talking quite some bond, between a barnacled man and a chubby malfeasant with a broken past, on the lam in Hobbits' own country. The spectacular bushscape makes a postcard-perfect setting for Waititi's frisky screenplay, adapted from Barry Crump's 1986 book, Wild Pork and Watercress. What could really go wrong in paradise, after all? So while a national manhunt and potential jail time are generally heavy duty, with their winking faith in the logically impossible, the perky Wilderpeeps refuse to bow down.