Pros: Taika Waititi’s 2016 masterpiece is equal parts pathos and comedy, a perfect blend of contemporary cinematic nods (including an amazing electronic-synth soundtrack by Moniker that’s a delight in its own right) and a classic into-the-wilderness narrative. When Ricky Baker, a city kid more interested in Tupac and pyromania than exploring the New Zealand bush, flees into the mountains with his foster uncle Hector, the two must find a way to survive both the elements and each other, all to moving effect. Think Moonrise Kingdom meets Rabbit-Proof Fence. Waititi’s use of the New Zealand landscape as well as his grasp of narrative movement is masterful, and the performances from all the actors, including veteran Sam Neill, are extremely strong. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of Waititi’s work.
Cons: Critics of whimsy will compare this to Wes Anderson’s work, which is similarly dreamy, intricate, meta; if you’re feeling uncharitable, there are moments that could be described as twee.
The Verdict: This one’s a winner. Grab a copy and settle in for a movie that will have you laughing, close to tears, and deeply satisfied.