Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” shouldn’t work. It’s the sort of venture that is hard to portray without making it sound stereotypical and nostalgic. It’s another transitioning story, this one of a grieved young person discovering his place on the planet somewhere down in the mountains, with a man who never thought he’d be a father figure. But then Waititi’s film opposes its tradition through grounded characters, witty discourse, empathetic filmmaking and imaginative narrating. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is reliably smart and notwithstanding moving.
It’s verification that we’ll continue listening to the commonplace stories in the event that they’re this well-told.