Hector And The Search For Happiness

The best part of life is living it.

Note: In case you're confused, this film does not appear in the printed ByTowne Guide. It replaces our originally scheduled shows of "The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby", which was cancelled by the distributor after the printed Guide went to press.

PLOT: Hector (Simon Pegg), an unhappy psychiatrist, leaves his adoring girlfriend (Rosamund Pike) behind on a globe-trotting adventure to discover the secret of happiness.

Poster art for Hector And The Search For HappinessREVIEW:
Hector And The Search For Happiness is the second film in a year to feature a bored, middle-aged man yearn to escape his humdrum existence and travel the globe in search of adventure and fulfilment. But, where the other one, Ben Stiller's The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty was an uneven mix of fantasy and travelogue, this is more of an adventure film, with Hector's search taking him into far more dangerous territory than Mitty ever would have dared venture.

At one point, a character refers to Hector as “the Indiana Jones of happiness” and that's totally the vibe director Peter Chelsom is going for. With Hector's rationale being that you can't know happiness without having experienced fear and sadness, his travels take him to rough places, including a surprisingly sordid romantic detour in China, and a violent episode in Africa, where he runs afoul of a drug lord (Jean Reno) and militia leaders. 

Simon Pegg gives an extremely winning performance as Hector. He comes off as a warm, affable guy, and he's a pleasant person to follow around on his adventures. It's believable that a lot of people he'd meet along the way, including Stellan Skarsgard as a cynical businessman in China, and Toni Collette as an ex-flame he meets up with in L.A, would be willing to indulge him in his quest.

It's only really in this LA-based episode where Hector starts to falter, with a plot device involving a psychiatrist played by Christopher Plummer, and his machine that analyzes emotion seeming a little too convenient a way to wrap things up. At the same time, Pegg makes it work, and while the last chunk of the movie isn't as well thought-out as the rest, it's still an entertaining, utterly pleasant ride.

-- Chris Bumbray,

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