By Nina Bovan (Belgrade, Serbia)
Someone in the YouTube comment section under this movie’s trailer wrote that Taika Waititi is New Zealand’s Wes Anderson. And I couldn’t agree more. While I liked What We Do in the Shadows, I simply loved this new project. You don’t come across a gem like this every day. Plot is almost similar to the last movie I reviewed, Captain Fantastic, but much more “quirky” and fun. I simply hate using the term quirky, but there isn’t any other word that would describe Waititi’s original and fresh style, so different from typical blockbusters created in Hollywood’s basement. I should also mention that besides directing, Waititi wrote the screenplay and was also involved in the production.
Story is based on a book by a New Zealand author Barry Crump, called “Wild Pork and Watercress”. I still have no clue which character is my favourite, since it is obvious that a lot of thought and work went into creating each and every one of them. Also setting the story in the New Zealand’s breathtaking greenery, accompanied with some stellar indie tunes, won me over. I always encourage people to explore more, to see non-American movies and productions and to broad their horizons. If you still feel doubtful about wasting your time on some over-hyped European art house film, skip it completely and devote your time to something like this.
Pathetic moments in the movies make me roll my eyes, and this doesn’t get to that point until the very end. But even then it is subtle and just enough to make main characters a bit more human and a bit less of a caricature. Laugh out loud one-liners are everywhere and Waititi’s humor is something I appreciate very much and I’m so glad that there is currently a voice like his in the film industry. Before this review turns into my written adoration for the man, I will write something more about the movie’s plot.
Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a troubled child. A troubled child who is also an orphan and who got another chance to start over in a new family. Unfortunately, his caregiver dies unexpectedly (honestly, what is it with killing mother-like figures in recent films?) and Ricky is left with her partner, Hector (Sam Neill), who isn’t quite happy with the situation and decides that it is best for Ricky to go back to the social workers. Ricky decides that he doesn’t like that plan at all and runs away. What ensues is a hilarious adventure full of banter and amusing characters along the way.
Even Waititi himself couldn’t resist making a cameo appearance as a priest with an unconventional prayer.
If you’re a fan of the independent film industry and you’re also in a mood for a bit of a laugh, I recommend you this little film. It isn’t anything groundbreaking plot-wise and not particularly technically outstanding, but is has a heart and a soul and watching it is a definitely great way to spend the afternoon.