Hector and the Search for Happiness Review

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Action, Comedy, Drama, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hector-And-The-Search-For-HappinessHector and the Search for Happiness  fancies itself a comedy, a drama, an action movie, and a travelogue, but the film fails in each of the genres, revealing itself to be nothing more than an awful little film about one uninteresting man’s mid-life crisis. Wrapped in pretension with a bow of psuedo-self help nonsense and delivered by a squandered all-star cast, Hector is a two-hour illustration of vapidness without even a hint of a redeeming satirical sense. It is a cyncical, clumsy, excruciating exercise in failed manipulation without a single genuine moment.

The critique of Hector as comedy is simple: it is not funny. As a drama, it lacks characters that we care about or a situation that we wish to see resolved. The action/adventure component is ludicrous, while the travelogue is very definitely offensive.

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatirst who can no longer feel empathy for his patients and sets out on a journey to find what it means to be happy. Of course, every viewer over four years of age knows he will find it right back at home where his long-suffering girlfriend Clara (Rosemund Pike struggling valiantly in a thankless role) waits in their unbelievably fantastic, but childless London flat. Pegg is a gifted character actor, but he is in over his head here. Perhaps a slovenly Russell Brand or a priggish Jude Law would have had better luck with the sub-standard material. Pegg has nothing more to offer than repeated rubber-face mugging for the camera and an occasional outpouring of gylcerin tears.

Hector’s first stop is Shanghai, where Edward, (the brilliant Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård), shows him how much happiness having a net worth of $100 million can bring. The journey of ten thousand miles almost ends with a single step when a beautiful Chinese girl (Ming Zhao in a “Holy S***, who is that?” appearance) goes back to his hotel room with him for a happy ending. Hector learns the hard way that affection rented is not as sweet as affection earned, and the search continues.

It’s on to Tibet, but don’t worry – there’s no danger of politics intruding on our revelry. Instead, we get a wacky old monk (Togo Igawa because why wouldn’t you cast a Japanese actor as a Tibetan monk – they all look alike, right?) who engages Hector in scenes that aren’t nearly as entertaining as the director and screenwriters believe them to be. As bad as that part of the movie is, things get much worse with the next stop – Africa. Yes, Africa is a country here, not a continent, and it has everything: elephants, lions, rebels, drug lords, and happy black people making sweet potato stew and just aching to share it with a white man. Jean Reno shows up in the movie at this point, looking desperately unhappy as only someone who has had access to the entire script can look.

Skipping quickly past the film’s low point, which has Hector taken prisoner by African guerillas/criminals, we then find ourselves in Los Angeles, where his old girlfriend (Toni Collette) and the ultimate Happiness Guru (Christopher Plummer) wait to hammer home the film’s final nonsensical points. Of course, the terminal patient on the airplane knocked home a coffin nail or two with keen insights like, “If you’re afraid of dieing, you’re afraid of living.” Take that, Charles Darwin, you big dumbass. Collette has the best moment in the movie by essentially telling Hector that the entire movie has been a waste of time, while Plummer as Professor Coreman, does Pegg the favor of turing in an even worse performance than his.

The film does provide one keen insight into happiness. Watching Hector and the Search for Happiness is much like banging one’s head with a hammer:  it’s bliss when it’s over.

One star.



  1. Mirella McCracken says:

    I liked the movie, but you made me laugh with you review Mr. Karma 😂

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