Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Toss in a conch shell and the <i>Lord of the Flies</i> effect is complete.

Toss in a conch shell and the Lord of the Flies effect is complete.

Rated 4.0

A problem boy in New Zealand’s foster child system (Julian Dennison) goes to live on a remote, hardscrabble farm with an older couple (Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata). When the woman dies unexpectedly, the boy and his new “uncle” go for an extended trek in the dense bushlands, where they become unwitting fugitives from justice and the objects of an intense and thoroughly misguided “manhunt.” Writer-director Taika Waititi adapts the late Barry Crump’s novel Wild Pork and Watercress, and the result (besides the improved title) is a quirky delight, filled with rough charm, surprising adventures, disarming humor and near-impenetrable New Zealand accents. Neill and Dennison form a solid bond of screen chemistry, and the supporting players are well cast, especially Rhys Darby as a character aptly named “Psycho Sam.