Hunt for the Wilderpeople transforms a fairly unremarkable tale of adoption into a wild and wonderful fantasy, yet again proving that New Zealand may as well just be Middle Earth.
Long having been in the foster care system, twelve year old Ricky Baker is deemed a problem child. His latest placement has him at the rural home of Bella and Hec Faulkner, it is happy-go-lucky Bella’s idea to foster against ornery Hec’s wishes. On Bella’s suggestion, Ricky ends up calling them Auntie and Uncle respectively, much to Hec’s chagrin. Bella’s approach to dealing with Ricky works, Ricky who blossoms under her care, with Hec off on the sidelines in leaving Ricky solely to Bella. Largely out of a change to their circumstance, Ricky and Hec end up together in the bush with no one knowing where they are. Rumors abound that Hec may have kidnapped Ricky, or worse that that kidnapping is combined with Hec being a pedophile, and as such a manhunt ensues with a further bounty on Hec.
Although nothing improper is happening between the pair, Both Hec and Ricky realize that their respective histories prevent them from turning themselves in and in knowing that coming in would lead to their separation. The longer they are able to elude capture, the stronger their folk hero status may rise. That status does not sit well with Paula Hall, the jaded and cynical case worker who has long overseen Ricky’s placements, she seeing herself as the wannabe police officer with guns ablazing both to put Hec behind bars and Ricky back in juvenile detention.