[Warning: This story contains minor spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok]
If you’re just now discovering the wonderful, technicolor world of director Taika Waititi with Thor: Ragnarok, some good news: there’s plenty more from the filmmaker waiting for you to explore.
Waititi started off as a comedian working with Flight of the Conchords‘ Jemaine Clement in a two-man stage show about Maori myths, but quickly transitioned to film alongside Clement, including directing episodes of HBO’s Conchords. Oddball comedy forms the foundation of all Waititi’s work, finding its way beneath his many pseudo-realistic tales (often about youthful New Zealanders embracing escapism). Clement and Waititi honed their sometimes-dry, sometimes-outrageous humor and worked together on Waititi’s first feature, the whimsical and strange 2007 film Eagle vs. Shark, after Waititi’s short Two Cars, One Night was nominated for an Academy Award.
That brings us to where you should start your Waititi voyage: 2010’s Boy, his second feature, which grew from the short. Like Ragnarok, it’s got ‘80s aesthetics, unexpected laughs and plenty of complex family relationships. James Rolleston plays the Maori kid Boy, whose younger brother Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu) believes he has dangerous mental abilities (think Eleven from Stranger Things, except all in his head) and whose parents are out of the picture (one dead, one in prison).
Both Boy and Ragnarok are filled with Waititi’s signature combination of outrageous lines delivered with absolute deadpan. And both deal with paternal imperfections. In Ragnarok, a battle rages between siblings Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), as Odin (Anthony Hopkins) leaves the pair when they need him most. Boy features similar father-induced anxiety, as the estranged dad Alamein (played by Waititi) returns to children who only know him through the legends they’ve cooked up in his absence. Alamein is just a small-time criminal, but to his children, he’s…
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