Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette
M (Violence, offensive language)
Warm, sentimental and predictable dramedy.
The title gives a good indication of what to expect from this. Hector and the Search for Happiness is the story of Hector (Pegg) leaving his sheltered life as a well-to-do psychiatrist to travel the world in search of the meaning of happiness.
Off goes Hector, travelling through Asia, Africa and America asking the locals what it means to be happy.
He records these in a leather-bound notebook given to him by a beautiful girlfriend (Pike) he's left behind. It's a personal and professional journey - how can Hector help people find happiness in their lives if he's not sure what happiness is?
Director Peter Chelsom uses some lovely touches, with illustrations and Michel Gondry-like puppets appearing randomly and transporting us from one place to another, but not quite enough to give a truly whimsical feel.
Pegg gives a performance full of warmth and energy, but it's tricky getting the tone spot-on in a film right trying to be philosophical, funny, dramatic and adventurous. It's not helped by the many stereotypical situations and characters Hector meets along the way, which make it feel a little like we're looking at snaps from his OE (Eat Pray Love style) rather than sharing his life-changing journey.
It's filled with good intentions; the idea of looking beyond your backyard for a fresh perspective is well-meaning, as is the notion that happiness means different things for different people.
Those who like "life-affirming" sayings will find plenty to like, and while it doesn't quite come together as a whole there are more than enough lovely moments to reflect on.