Comedies often seem to fall into two categories: gross out ones (for whom penis/testicle sucking is the apotheosis of humour) and non-comedies (for whom a knowing wry curl of the lip is the equivalent of the guffaw). Wilderpeople is nearer the latter category, but has genuine laughs – imagine Wes Anderson but with added comedy. Directed by Taika Waititi, who is part of the NZ Flight of the Conchords team and directed the excellent What We Do In the Shadows, it continues the same vein of good natured idiots fumbling through an equally dumb world. In this case it is the young Ricky, who goes on the run with his “uncle”, the grizzled Sam Neill, in the NZ bush.
The scenery provides a verdant backdrop to the bumbling manhunt, led by the inept Rachel House with her mindless “no child left behind” motto. There is an inevitable Goodnight Mr Tom narrative, as the curmudgeonly Neill comes to accept the unrelenting optimism of his young charge. But although it plays the heartwarming card to good effect, it’s never schmaltzy or sentimental. A decent comedy has been a rare find in 2016, and you think we’d need them now more than ever.