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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Sweet messages about family not giving up on one another, the importance of protecting and defending those you love, and helping those in need. Strong themes of friendship and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Bella is a wonderful foster parent. She's loving and kind and tries to teach/correct Ricky. Hec is resistant and hesitant at first but grows close to Ricky after they've spent one-on-one time together. Ricky is curious, funny, kind, and just want wants a family and home to call his own.
Violence & Scariness
Hec and Bella hunt game for their food; Bella kills a wild pig with a knife, getting blood all over herself, including her face and hands -- Ricky faints at the sight. Someone dies suddenly; the body is partially visible. Hec is hurt in the bush, and several characters use guns, either for hunting or law enforcement. A character is injured a few different times. Hec and Ricky hold three hunters at gunpoint and then take their guns. Hec and Ricky have a close encounter with an angry wild boar that attacks them. The boar kills one of the two dogs in the movie. Angry, Ricky tells stories (which aren't true) about abuse/molestation by a foster parent.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A young character makes it sound like an older one is an abuser/molester; see "Violence" section.
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Occasional use of "s--t," "piss," "bastard," "ass," "d--k," "pervert," and exclamations like "Christ!"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A few adults smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hunt for the Wilderpeople -- which centers on a Maori boy who ends up in the care of a cranky old hunter near the New Zealand bush -- is an engaging mix of buddy comedy, coming-of-age drama, and family adventure. You can expect some swearing ("s--t," "bastard," "ass") and violent scenes, mostly revolving around hunting, an animal attack, and the death of beloved pet. People are also held at gunpoint and are injured, and one character dies suddenly of natural causes. Ricky tells stories (which aren't true) about abuse/molestation by a foster parent. On the upside, there are great messages about teamwork, friendship, and not judging people too quickly. It's an excellent pick for families with older tweens/younger teens who are interested in something a little outside the mainstream. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This charming odd-couple adventure is the well-acted story of a down-and-out Maori kid and his grouchy foster parent. Quirky and offbeat like all of director Taika Waititi's films, Hunt for the Wilderpeople could have devolved into the cliched or overly familiar (how many stories are there are about foster kids or orphans?), but it manages to stay on the right side of endearing thanks to the chemistry between Dennison and Neill, who, despite having a perpetual frown, looks like he was having the time of his life acting opposite Dennison's dynamic force of optimism and cheer.
As the loving and attentive Bella, Te Wiata is the ideal foster mom, paying attention to all the little details, like making sure Ricky has a "hottie" (hot water bottle) on his pillow every night to keep him warm and cuddly. But she's also fierce enough to slit a wild pig's throat and then casually say to Ricky "well, that's dinner." Her foil is the hilariously hard-nosed child protective services' case worker Paula, who will stop at nothing to "rescue" a boy she considers a "bad egg." But this isn't ultimately their story. It's the story of city-kid Ricky, who learns to appreciate and even love the bush as much as his "uncle" Hec, a man who may not know how to read words but knows how to survive -- something they both become adept at doing together.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.