Hector and the Search for Happiness

"Grim"

Hector and the Search for Happiness Review


With an approach so saccharine that it makes Eat Pray Love look like an edgy thriller, this heartwarming meaning-of-life odyssey is so relentlessly schmalzy that it quickly annoys anyone with even a tiny spark of cynicism inside them. And the annoying thing is that the filmmakers might have got away with it if there was any depth to the constant flow of uplifting sloganeering.

It starts in London, where the psychiatrist Hector (Simon Pegg) has a perfect life with his cheeky girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). But the misery of his patients is rubbing off on him, so he decides to go in search of the true meaning of happiness. He starts by heading to Shanghai, where he meets a stinking-rich businessman (Stellan Skarsgard) and a sexy young woman (Zhao Ming). But is happiness found in money or sex? Silly question. Moving on, he checks out knowledge and wisdom in Tibet with a monk (Togo Igawa), then charity and power in Africa with an old pal (Barry Atsma), a drug kingpin (Jean Reno) and a gang of heavily armed rebels. Finally, he heads to Los Angeles to explore nostalgia with his old flame Agnes (Toni Collette), who helps him track down an award-winning self-help author (Christopher Plummer) who's known as "the Einstein of happiness".

Based on the book by Francois Lelord, the film is assembled along an outline of Hector's discoveries along the road, so what he discovers is actually written across the screen. But none of it is remotely enlightening, so why is he travelling to China, Tibet and Africa to discover these cheesy aphorisms, which appear on trite motivational posters in every office in the Western world? In addition to the on-screen captions, there are animated segments from Hector's travel diary, which are clearly drawn by a professional artist, not this hapless goofball who can't even remember where his pen is.

And that's a problem: Pegg is miscast in the role. He's likeable enough, but the character is so shallow and stupid that he seems incapable of holding down a full-time job, let alone counselling psychiatric patients. He certainly never seems like someone interested in proper soul-searching. There are even hints that the entire trek is merely a ruse to rekindle a romance with Agnes. Thankfully, Collette is terrific in her smallish role, as are Pike, Plummer, Reno, Skarsgard and everyone else in the supporting cast. So even if it's impossible to believe anything that happens in this movie, at least there are some decent actors to vaguely entertain us along the way.



Hector and the Search for Happiness

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 14th August 2014

Box Office USA: $1.1M

Distributed by: Relativity Media

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 28 Rotten: 50

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Klaus Dohle, Trish Dolman, , Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Judy Tossell

Starring: as Hector, as Clara, as Agnes, as Edward, as Professor Coreman, as Diego

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