Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) review: Warm and wise odd couple comedy

Film

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Director: Taika Waititi Writers: Taika Waititi (screenplay), Barry Crump (based on the book by)  Stars: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata

If you consider that Taika Waititi’s previous body of work includes the supremely quirky ‘Eagle Vs Shark’, and the pant-wettingly hilarious vampire mockumentary ‘What we do in the Shadows’, to go into a viewing of ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ expecting anything other than offbeat and idiosyncratic would be foolish.

‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ takes on a familiar story as we follow the progress of orphaned Ricky (the very charming Julian Dennison), as he reluctantly starts out his new life with foster family Aunty Bella (played with unabashed joy by Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (a grumbly Sam Neill) on a small holding in the remote outback of New Zealand. Having been through a number of foster homes, with social workers writing him off as a wannabe gangster and rotten apple, Ricky tries his best to escape his new life, but soon finds himself drawn in by Bella’s unflinching warmth, good humour and ninja-like deployment of hot water bottles.

Tragedy soon strikes, although it is handled in a distinctly low-key and stiff-upper-lipped way, with the men going about their normal business to the best of their abilities. Then, through a series of unfortunate events, Ricky finds himself on the run with stoic Uncle Hec and dogs Zag and Tupac in tow, trekking through the thousands of hectares of dense forest surrounding the family’s farm, on the run from both the police and a very angry social worker.

As with Waititi’s previous directorial outings the real joy comes with the unpolished and off-kilter, from Hec’s quiet awe at the “majestical” landscape that lies before them, to Ricky’s ill-fated attempts at running away from home. There is the seemingly obligatory appearance by Rhys Darby as outback hermit Psycho Sam, along with a cameo by the director himself as an eccentric Vicar (who almost steals the show with his tale about Jesus hiding behind doors).

The New Zealand landscape looks both awesome and terrifying as the pair immerse themselves in wilderness living, becoming both an ally and an enemy in their battle to stay together.

Waititi is becoming masterful in his directorial style, and brings a wonderfully fresh slant to what could have been a hackneyed, odd-couple buddy movie, making it a joyous and heart-warming tale of strong characters overcoming adversity and finding comfort in new forms of family.

8 out of 10

Toast of London Season 2- our favourite jobbing thespian is back

TV

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Ray Purchase! Clem Fandango! Jane Plough! Yes, some of the most-marvellously-monikered characters on TV are back in season 2 of Toast of London. Season 1 suffered somewhat from odd scheduling, so was missed by many comedy fans. However, it’s stint on 4OD and Amazon Prime has ensured it has reached a wider audience, and gained a few fanatical fans. OK, I’ll confess, I’m one of them.

Matt Berry’s portrayal of the self-important jobbing actor Steven Toast is a thing of beauty, as we follow his career path through his stint in “the worst play in the West End” , to assassination attempts by Michael Ball, to his many voice-over jobs with the aforementioned Clem Fandango.

If you have yet to find yourself lost in the insane and frankly sexual world of Steven Toast you can still catch up on Amazon Prime or 4OD  in preparation for the start of season 2.

Season 2 of Toast of London starts on Channel 4 at 10:35pm on Monday 3rd November 2014.