Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Hector and the Search for Happiness, or: Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Christa’s pick because I guess this is still romance week(s), but we’re a little romanced out. Also Simon Pegg. See Christa’s thoughts here!

The Film:

Hector and the Search for Happiness

The Premise:

Films like this make me question including a summary. Hector (Simon Pegg) travels the world searching…for…(act surprised)…HAPPINESS.

The Trailer:

The Uncondensed Version:

The most important thing you need to know about this film is that it begins with Simon Pegg and a dog flying in a biplane. If this is an image that appeals to you, you may enjoy this film. If you think that sounds a bit over the top and, frankly, cheesy, then this film may not be up your alley.

Our movie follows Hector, a psychiatrist who likes his nice, quiet, comfortable life with his girlfriend, Clara (Rosamunde Pike). As her jackass boss points out, Clara has yet to discover the words “maternity” or “leave.”

The usual routines get upset when Clara finds a picture of Hector with someone named Agnes. Hector also brings out the “Are you happy?” question with extremely poor timing. Honestly, Hector really does want to know what makes people happy, and decides to travel around the world conducting his research.

A man wearing glasses faces a woman who is wearing oversized black glasses.
You think I’m unhappy? Did the giant hipster glasses give me away???

Hector’s first stop is China, where a cranky rich dude argues that money is happiness. In contrast, we get the Dalai Lama (I presume?) telling Hector that the key to happiness is, among other things, not to avoid unhappiness.

Next stop is to visit Hector’s friend, a doctor in an indeterminate African nation. Basically, all kinds of shit goes down, but Hector does make friends with a powerful drug dealer. Cool?

Finally, Hector travels to Los Angeles to meet up with Agnes, thus freaking Clara the fuck out. On the plane, someone asks if there’s a doctor in the house b/c there’s a woman whose brain is swelling. She doesn’t want the plane to stop because she’s on the way to visit her sister one last time, so Hector requests the plane fly at a lower altitude. Okay, I’m sorry, but if you’re having a medical emergency, I think they would stop the fucking plane whether you want to or not. Hector, the very soul of nobility, gives his first class seat to the woman and spends the rest of the flight trying to make her feel better. To be honest, this entire scene makes faking a medical emergency on a plane seem very appealing.


A man on a plane tends to an unconscious woman.
You beautiful angel, you are NOT REAL.

Anyway, Hector arrives in LA. Also Agnes is Toni Collette, which is fantastic. Agnes is happily married with children, but she has some great connections in the psychology field, including Christopher Plummer in a beanie. He has developed a device for people to wear, after which he can diagnose what emotions they are feeling.

A man sits next to an older man (played by actor Christopher Plummer) in a medical office.

Hector doesn’t have grown up feelings until Clara calls, and it lights up every part of his brain. He’s got more feelings than someone watching a Pixar movie.  Does this mean Hector has finally found the key to happiness???

The Critique:

Simon Pegg was so adorable in this film, and Rosamunde Pike too. I really liked that the message of this film was, among other things, that it’s okay to enjoy the everyday moments of life and the seemingly dull routines…though it is necessary to challenge yourself and be a bit uncomfortable at times.

This was a fun, upbeat film, but at times it was a little too upbeat. I found myself overanalyzing certain situations in which people turn out not to be complete assholes with really sketchy ulterior motives (but I suppose that may be more of a reflection of my general state of mind at the moment).

I also expected us to delve into Hector’s childhood a bit more, as there were clearly some issues there. I suppose it was kind of refreshing that this wasn’t a film in which talking about trauma made its impact suddenly disappear.

And on a side note, towards the end of the film, Hector Skypes with the Dalai Lama, who seems surprised to see him. It makes me uncomfortable to think the Dalai Lama is on Chatroulette or something, but in what other video chat scenario would you be so surprised to see someone you know? No?

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherHalf Pink Panther head 3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I’m a harsh critic, what can I say? Honestly, I got hung up on that plane scene, which seemed to argue for the basic decency of passengers on long trips.

What did Christa think? Find out in her post here!