release date: 26 September 2014 (Canada)
run time: 120 mins
considered: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
director: Peter Chelsom
starring: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Tracy Ann Oberman, Jean Reno, Veronica Ferres, Barry Atsma, Ming Zhao, Togo Igawa, Christopher Plummer, Bruce Fontaine, Jordan Schartner, Bernard Cuffling, Jakob Davies, Chris Gauthier, Dean Paul Gibson, Stellan Skarsgard, Toni Collette
movie summary: Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist that lives in London with his very beautiful girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike). Together the couple have never talked about getting married or having kids all while living a very neat and organized lifestyle. Clara keeps Hector life in perfect order, just the way he likes it, while Hector treats his patients in the same way he runs his life, short, simple, and to the point.
Everyday Hector walks to work to sit in his chair, opposite his patients, and draws the whole appointment while these people talk or complain about their lives. When he finally listens to some of his long time patients, he realizes that none of them are happy and begins to question how he is as a doctor, partner, and human being. During one visit he completely snaps on a patient for not doing something else to make herself happy and to stop complaining about it. As the lady runs out of his office baling her eyes out, Hector is left alone to realize how much of an idiot he is and how he may indeed be the one who isn’t happy in life.
In an attempt to change his life and find something to make himself happy, Hector meets with Clara to inform her that he is going on a trip to do research about what makes people happy. She is upset because her career is just taking off and she thinks Hector is going off to find an old girlfriend to rekindle the flame. Before Hector boards the plane Clara gives him permission to do whatever he wants, no questions asked, on the trip and will accept him back with open arms when he finally decides to come home.
The first stop on the trip is China where Hector makes friends with a wealthy businessman Edward (Stellan Skarsgard), who shows him have to life the luxury life. Together the pair hits up fancy restaurants and classy night clubs while talking about the spoils of being wealthy. In the club Hector meets a beautiful girl that he spends the night with and quickly develops feelings for. When their lunch date the next day goes horribly wrong, Hector decides it’s time to leave and head to the mountains to meet with the monks. In the blistering cold on top of the world, Hector believes Monks must be happy because they choose to live in such seclusion. After a quick Skype chat with Clara and some thought-provoking advice, Hector heads down the mountains and heads to meet his life long friend Michael (Barry Atsma) in Africa.
While spending his days in the hot weather helping wounded and sick kids with Michael, Hector spends his nights making friends with the locals. During these nights Hector learns a lot of good food dishes and great music to dance to. When the party goes long into the night Hector takes a taxi home when it gets stolen and he is thrown into prison. The days pile up leaving Hector to feel that he will end up dead in the dirty cell because no one will listen to his case. After coming face to face with a gun and his last rites, Hector mentions that he has to return something to drug kingpin Diego Baresco (Jean Reno). His captives release they are messing with a friend of the biggest dealer in the area, so they immediately pack him up and drop him off in the bushes a few miles from home.
Hector is given a second lease on life and his next leg of his journey is a trip to Los Angeles to meet an old friend. Clara is furious about his decision to go to the United States instead of coming home to her. They break up and Hector makes the best of this and hopes to find happiness with his old flame. He finally reaches the beautiful beaches of Los Angeles and comes face to face with Agnes (Toni Collette) only to realize that he was happy in life and despite everything he’s experienced on his journey he may have thrown everything important to him away.
my thoughts: First things first, Hector and the Search for Happiness is just another version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I am a person who judges books by their covers and went into this movie hoping it would be a much better story then the one with Ben Stiller in it. I understand it’s a bad thing to prejudge movies, let alone anything, before giving them a chance. Last fall I went into the Walter Mitty movie hoping to feel energized about life and be inspired to go on a journey. None of that happened and actually disliked that movie, story, and message more than the average movie goer.
When Simon Pegg was living his normal every day life as Hector, I saw a part of me in his character based on how neat and organized his life was. Then when he had a mental breakdown, I wondered why on earth he wouldn’t be happy with a successful career and a beautiful women like Rosamund Pike. (I know I wouldn’t be complaining if I came home to her every night. Just saying.) So in attempt to add some excitement to his rather boring same routine life, Hector goes continent jumping that will hopefully change his life. I disliked him and his reasons for the journey from the very beginning, but that all changed when he was in jail. The emotional outpouring of his soul while laying on a concrete floor wondering if he was ever going to get out really made me sad. All of sudden I was behind him and wanted him to find happiness, I wanted him to run home to Clara to get married and have a family. I just wanted him to survive and to see the sunshine again. I was so behind his character that I wish I could have gone and freed him myself. That was kind of passion I was expecting from another character in a different movie that I never got until a year later thanks to a better story and actor.
This whole movie is centered around Hector, his lifestyle, decisions, and epic journey but there’s a solid supporting cast around him. Pike has a limited role as the long distance girlfriend but holds all the cards to his happy life. She is the fire that burns in his heart even though it takes so much for him to realize it. Stellan Skarsgard is spot on as his portrayal of the rich and powerful. Toni Collette is the one girl who got away that has Hector questioning his life every day since. She’s moved on and built a beautiful family which is the final crushing blow to Hector and his imagination of happiness. He would have never figured that out until he meets Christopher Plummer, who plays a professor whose main focus is on brain studies. Jean Reno rounds out the big names as an international tough as nails drug dealer who is a life saver and needs a little saving of his own. Together everyone will come in and out of Hector’s life to aid him on his search for happiness.
my final thoughts: I recommend trying not to compared Hector and Walter Mitty like I did because both as good movies. In today’s society where people expect happiness at the push of a button, sometimes it takes a little opening up and a bit of effort to find out what truly makes you happy. Hector is a loveable character that needs to go through the trials and tribulations of finding out what makes other people happy to adjust his life to be truly happy.
my star rating: 7 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 32% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 1 out 4