Hunt for the hot wildercocoa

The duck and I have tried to make a delicious cup of hot cocoa countless times. So far, we would only get guaranteed success by using a hot cocoa mix that you simply need to add hot water or milk to. Those cups of hot cocoa tend to taste a bit too sweet and make us feel like complete failures. Whenever we have tried to create our own hot cocoa mix by using baking cocoa and other simple ingredients, the result was never satisfactory. Until recently, that is, when we made our first cup of hot cocoa that didn’t taste like sadness and regret!hot cocoa duckAlso recently we watched one of our favorite movies again: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, written and directed by Taika Waititi, one of our preferred directors and vampire impersonators. Since this movie was recommended to us by and first watched with two of our favorite people, J and Al, back when we saw them (too) many years ago – when traveling was only a matter of funds and free time – the duck and I thought that this would be the perfect friend recommendation to accompany our photographic journey to a somewhat decent cup of homemade hot cocoa:

Once rejected, now accepted

Hunt for the Wilderpeople begins with the moment Ricky Baker, a 12-year old delinquent who, having been in the foster care system since he was a baby, arrives at a farm at the edge of the New Zealand bush to live with his quirky new foster aunt Bella and her grumpy husband Hector. Not expecting this home to be any different from the others, Ricky tries not to get too attached while Bella tries to show Ricky that she accepts him for who he is. Hector has only agreed to the arrangement to make Bella happy, so he makes clear to Ricky early on that he does not want to be called ‘uncle’.
The duck and I agreed to start our hot cocoa attempt by assembling all the ingredients we thought we might use. First, we got the basics: a big penguin mug, baking cocoa, sugar, and (oat) milk. Then we decided that we would also need maple syrup and coconut milk for this cocoa cocoa prepHunt for the Wilderpeople is based on the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump that tells the story of Ricky and Uncle Hec’s adventure in the bush. The duck and I have only read the first few pages that were part of a preview, but it seems like the overall story is similar to that of the movie: An overweight part-Maori boy who has gotten himself into trouble several times is sent to live with his sympathetic maternal aunt Bella and her grumpy husband Hec at their old farm. But there are differences in the details. While the novel is set in the 1980s and features a Ricky who likes to read, especially science fiction, the film is set in the 2010s and Ricky is all about the skux life and Tupac. The duck and I appreciate it when adaptations pay tribute to the original medium (like Tony Takitani), so we love the use of superimposed chapter titles that help structure the film and make it feel like an animated picture book, especially with Ricky’s bright costumes that stick out in the greens and browns of the bush. If we find a decently priced copy of the book, we definitely want to read it and see how else the stories differ.
If we find a good blend that we can recreate for our own tasty homemade cup, the duck and I decided, all the terrible cups of hot cocoa that we had to endure on our way there will have been worth it! This time we decided to begin by combining two teaspoons of cocoa powder, one teaspoon of sugar, and a pinch of salt in our penguin cup. We hoped the salt would help bring out the flavors a bit more.
hot cocoaOne major difference between the film and the novel is the tone. While both focus on Ricky and Hec’s adventure and go into Ricky’s tough backstory as a child in the foster care system, the film plays with comedic elements more than the novel seems to (I’ve seen the novel described as moving and fun, but not as funny as the film). This is one of the main reasons the duck and I enjoy watching the movie so much; there is hardly a scene that doesn’t have at least one element that makes us laugh, sometimes internally, sometimes out loud. While Ricky is the narrator of the novel, the movie gives insight into his young mind by the way he acts: like an actual 13-year-old boy who is still a bit naive, wants to be accepted but doesn’t want to show it, has hilarious ideas (that do make a lot of sense to him), and often speaks before he thinks.
The duck and I also tend to act before we think when it comes to preparing something to eat or drink – this is how a lot of our hot cocoa attempts have turned out lumpy or runny. This time we made sure to dissolve the cocoa-sugar-salt mixture in some hot water before we’d add the frothy oat milk that we hoped would give it a richer taste. The penguin mug crackled in agreement (and we decided to place a saucer under it, just in case).
hot cocoaIf you’d ask us what we like the most about Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the duck and I would agree that it’s the characters! We think that they are all written, cast, and directed perfectly! To get an idea of what I am talking about, have a look at this clip and the first twelve seconds of the trailer (which we do think gives away too much of the story past the first half minute); you immediately understand the dynamics between Ricky, his foster parents, and Paula, the child welfare worker. Within the first few minutes of their introduction, they feel like profound characters with their own voice and ambitions. Let’s take Aunt Bella as an example: Even though you see her joke about Ricky’s figure in the clips, you soon find out that she does not do that to hurt him; her joke is a clumsy attempt at making Ricky feel at home. Most characters in the film are portrayed as being a bit awkward (and often misunderstood) with their own particular way of navigating the world. When they interact, the dialogue flows naturally as their differing perspectives clash. Even though they may have opposing objectives, you understand where each of them is coming from.
Even though we had specifically chosen our penguin mug for this feat, we began to worry as the crackling sounds intensified after we had poured about 250ml of warm, frothy milk over our cocoa-concoction. After adding a tiny bit of vanilla and some maple syrup to the mix, we decided that the crackling sounds were too alarming to go on.
hot cocoa with milk
Apart from lovable characters and a believable world, the duck and I need movies to have the right (subjective) feel for us to fully appreciate them. Hunt for the Wilderpeople definitely has that for us. We love how, in some cases, the editing noticeably adds to the comedy like the short sequence when Paula tells Bella about Ricky’s criminal history or when quick cuts (that remind of those in Shaun of the Dead) introduce the moment when Ricky is left alone with his new foster family. We think that the score does a great job at introducing you to the setting and keeping you in the adventure of the unlikely duo (the duck might have quacked the Trifecta birthday song for days after). The scenery is beautiful and the cinematography and color grading make you feel as if you’re adventuring through the New Zealand bush yourself while Ricky’s clothes remind you that this might not be the chosen surroundings of a kid who wants to live the skux life. Especially in the first few minutes of the film, the costumes wonderfully introduce the characters (and in Paula’s case, they function as a comical contrast between her professional attire and her hilarious personality).
It felt as if it was a matter of minutes before the penguin mug would burst in our hands right as we’d try to take the first sip of our hot cocoa. To prevent that, we journeyed from one pole to the other and fetched our trusted polar bear mug that, unfortunately (and weirdly), is smaller than the penguin we had mixed our cocoa for.
hot cocoa new cup
If you ask us, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the perfect movie to watch if you’re looking for an adventure comedy-drama that is told through the eyes of a quirky teenage misfit. We do have a particular weakness for movies about childhood, so seeing Ricky portrayed as a believable young teenager definitely added to our love for this film. But it’s also how all the different ingredients (of which we only named a few) are applied and work so well together that makes us enjoy it so much. It’s refreshing when you positively notice the editing, get a nice mix of physical comedy and hilarious dialogue and see that each character has their distinct voice that at the same time fits into the overall style of the film. The duck and I might be blinded by how much fun it was to watch this with our friends for the first time, but it is also true that we were invested from beginning to end every time we watched this movie afterward. Even if you don’t have a weakness for movies about childhood, we highly recommend you check out Hunt for the Wilderpeople because we think that it’s an objectively good watch.
Even though the duck and I don’t necessarily have a weakness for coconut, we had taken out a can of coconut milk when we were assembling the ingredients we wanted to use. So, for the sake of completeness, we dropped a generous spoonful into our already overflowing hot cocoa. The polar bear mug was definitely too small to properly replace the comparatively huge but, unfortunately, slowly fracturing penguin mug. But it did hold the added coconut fine, so we were happy!Blog Shots-359We were also happy that we didn’t add too much coconut, but the little we did added a nice texture. We thought that the chocolate flavor and the sweetness were just right and the pinch of salt, vanilla, and maple syrup turned this into a satisfying liquid winter snack that we will definitely have again. But first, we will try out the fancy chocolate our lovely friend R has gotten us for Christmas that, it seems, you can also drink as a hot chocolate! We’ve definitely earned it after writing way too much (and having had to try hard not to write more) about our discovery of and fascination with Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I think there’s a reason the duck and I have refrained from writing about movies we like until now.
Have you seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople? What characteristics does a movie need to have for you to like it?
We’ll go back to dreaming about hot chocolate and cookies now.

Have a wild winter, and try to not get lost in the bush!

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