Wilderpeople gets rave reviews in US video

PIKI FILMS/YouTube

Taika Waititi's film Hunt for the Wilderpeople debuted at Sundance Film Festival.

Kiwi hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople has broken box office records in New Zealand, but already looks like a critical hit in America.

The film, starring Sam Neill and directed by Taika Waititi, has attracted strong praise from heavyweight American film critics for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal ahead of its release in US cinemas today.

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Actors Sam Neill and Julian Dennison  in the Taika Waititi film Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
SUPPLIED

Actors Sam Neill and Julian Dennison in the Taika Waititi film Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times said the film was "smart and funny".

"Every once in a while, a small, unheralded film comes along, so smart and funny, such a pleasure to experience, you can't believe your luck. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is such a film," he wrote.

"The film has a gently absurdist quality, a simultaneously sweet and subversive sensibility all its own, mixing warmth, adventure and comedy in ways that consistently surprise."

Hunt for the Wilderpeople opens in the US today.
KANE SKENNAR

Hunt for the Wilderpeople opens in the US today.

Turan also praised young actor Julian Dennison's performance.

"Wilderpeople wouldn't be the success it is without its 13-year-old costar, Julian Dennison. A talented performer in only his third feature, Dennison creates a convincingly multidimensional character whose personal unpredictability and sincere spontaneity is never in doubt."

Manohla Dargis in the New York Times said the film was "charming and funny". She singled out director Taika Waititi for special praise.

MONIQUE FORD / Stuff.co.nz

Hunt for the Wilderpeople actors Julian Dennison and Sam Neill talk shop with director Taika Waititi at the Roxy theatre, Miramar, Wellington.

"He's still finding his way, but he's already a director who ... can distill a worldview into a single, perfect cinematic moment."

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Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal said Waititi had created a film where "whimsy and absurdity mingle freely with real feelings and droll social satire."

"Watching this lovely little lark from New Zealand, you may feel like a happy camper on a twisty trail blazed by a cockeyed comic prodigy," he wrote.

"It's majestical nonsense that is anything but nonsensical."

April Wolfe in The Village Voice also praised the film, describing it as "one of the most sincere and funny portraits of family life to come along in a while."

 - Stuff

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