Stars of 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople' find emotion in comedy


(Reuters) - A New Zealand dramedy about a teenage boy forming an unlikely bond with his new foster father touches on emotional but not sentimental themes.


"Hunt for the Wilderpeople," out in U.K. theaters on Friday, follows troubled 13-year-old Ricky, played by newcomer Julian Dennison, as he goes to live with a new foster family in the New Zealand countryside.


When his foster mother unexpectedly dies, he and his new foster father, Uncle Hec, played by Sam Neil, go into hiding in the nearby woods when a tenacious social worker launches a manhunt to find them.


While the film weaves together comedic moments with high- stakes action and emotional scenes, Neil told Reuters that he liked "that there is no sentimentality in this film - very important. You know, it is about real feelings, but there is nothing sticky or sentimental there."

Famed for his role in Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster "Jurassic Park," Neil said, "There's lots of Uncle Hecs still around in New Zealand in obscure places, and actually I have a couple of good friends who are kind of Uncle Hecs."

"There is nothing in common with Jurassic Park, except both characters are a little bit grumpy at the beginning," he quipped.

"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is the highest-grossing film in New Zealand, by local filmmaker Taika Waititi, who is moving up from indie films to Hollywood blockbusters, directing the upcoming Disney-Marvel superhero movie "Thor: Ragnarok" starring Chris Hemsworth.

(Reporting by Reuters TV in London; Writing by Melissa Fares; Editing by Dan Grebler)