It's not that often that I would refer to a "must-see" film, but this is one. As a fan of quirky comedies, I feel that one of the factors that makes or breaks them is their ability to set the right tone so that you know how to sit back and take the film in as intended.
This film by New Zealand director, Taika Waititi, does that brilliantly. In other films, especially Boy (2010), he has demonstrated his ability to mix humour with serious issues, and this time he does so even better - at least as far as the humour is concerned.
The closest comparison I can think of is the Australian comedy, The Castle (1997), which had that incredible ability to add a dozen classic quotes to your repertoire. Yet The Castle was so unique that it took a long while before most viewers knew how to take it. I've heard many who, like myself, didn't warm to it at all during the first half hour. Yet, once you caught the rhythm of the film, it was lovable and hilarious.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople draws you in much more quickly, but shares that same quotability, especially since it begs to be watched again and shared with friends and watched again. I've been told by Kiwis who appreciate the film that it's even better if you know all the in jokes that are sprinkled thoughout.
There are moments when it can't be taken seriously and gets a little over-the-top, but this is made tolerable (if not laudable) since it is all in the service of homage to classic outlaw-on-the-run films. Also be warned that the New Zealand accents, especially for the Maori boy, Ricky Baker, mean you have to listen closely.
The cinematography is gorgeous, the acting is wonderful and, in the best way, it's a "feel-good" film. **** from me.