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Movie Review: "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" at the UICA

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Nick Hartman, UICA Film Coordinator reviews the story of defiant city kid Ricky, who gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside.
"Hunt for the Wilderpeople"

"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" /Courtesy of "Hunt for the Wilderpeople"

Underwriting support from:

Upcoming Films:

Open Projector Night 15

Aug 3, 2016

The Wailing

Aug 5, 2016 – Aug 18, 2016

Pokemon: First Movie

Aug 9, 2016

Childhood of a Leader

Aug 12, 2016 – Aug 25, 2016


If you consider yourself a music lover, then you’ll understand that in the music world, when one of your favorite musicians puts out a record that you find almost perfect you’re extremely excited for a follow up album but also a little hesitant as you prepare for potential disappointment. Well, It’s the same in the world of cinema, and when I discovered Taika Waititi director of "What We Do in the Shadows" (2015) was releasing a new film, I found myself in a state of doubt and thought it wasn’t possible to put out something as strong as "What We Do in the Shadows," but to my surprise (and relief), I was wrong.

Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), a teen raised on hip-hop and foster care is sent to live in the outback with his new foster parents due to his continuous disobedience. Ricky is considered a bad egg that’s known for stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, loitering and graffiti. He’s continuously told that no family wants him and that it’s his last chance to get his act together or he’ll be sent to a juvenile home.

Upon arrival, Ricky’s foster mother (Rima Te Wiata) immediately showers him with love and wants nothing more than to help Ricky feel accepted, but his foster father, Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), feels differently and doesn’t want anything to do with Ricky and prefers to be left alone. When tragedy strikes, Ricky fakes his death and he and his trusted companion, his dog Tu-Pac, run away to the New Zealand countryside to escape from the world that’s been so cruel to him.

When Uncle Hec discovers the boy is missing, he sets out to rescue him from the dangers of the wilderness, but to Hec’s surprise, he discovers the rest of the country believes that Uncle Hec has kidnapped Ricky and a national manhunt ensues. The last thing Ricky wants is to go to a home, so he and Uncle Hec put their differences aside and do all they can to avoid being caught and sent to independent penitentiaries.

In the world of cinema, a director can be known as an “auteur” meaning that each film they put out shows their personal influence and can easily be picked out as their own while standing out from the rest. Waititi proves to be an expert of his tone and understands how to make an audience laugh without using cliché gags that most filmmakers use such as excessive cussing, sexual situations, and overall “offensive” material. Waititi shows us a comedy can be clean and innocent but still make you laugh just as hard (or even harder) than your typical blockbuster comedy.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is screening Friday, July 29, 2016 – Thursday, August 11, 2016.

The UICA Movie Theater shows independent, foreign, and documentary movies in downtown Grand Rapids Tuesday–Sunday year round. Audiences can see critical favorites, festival award winners, and special one-night screenings of classic films in UICA's 195-seat theater, with a state-of-the-art, Dolby© certified movie viewing experience. The Rapidian and UICA have teamed up to bring you film reviews about movies screening in the UICA Movie Theater by Nick Hartman, UICA Film Coordinator.

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