‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ Review: Happiness is an Obligation

Posted in The Screening Room by - April 10, 2015

Hector and the Search for Happiness is the next film in our Reader’s Submission Month, and it was suggested to us by Clay Lein. I’m immensely happy that I had the opportunity to watch this film, as it not only features one of my favorite actors, Simon Pegg, along with a fantastic supporting cast, but it also has something interesting to say about being human.

The film follows Hector, played impeccably by Pegg, who is a psychiatrist that realizes that he is unable to make his patients happy. This is because he has become complacent in his own life, allowing his girlfriend Clara, played by Rosamund Pike, to do everything for him. While he doesn’t resent her as most characters in films do in his situation, he does feel that his own unhappiness is affecting his ability to help his patients. He takes it upon himself to travel the world, looking for what makes other people happy, so that he may take that new found information and use it to help his patients. He travels all over the world, going from Shanghai to Africa and ending up in Los Angeles, all in the search for happiness.

Simon Pegg is one of my favorite actors because he has the ability to not only make me laugh uncontrollably in film such as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but also because he is able to be truly relatable in his performances. He feels like the every man. As Hector, Pegg is able to show not only his comedic prowess but also his dramatic skills. There is a scene in the film where Pegg is in a prison cell by himself that truly shines as a work of drama. He carries the entire film and his performance is one that, if more eyes had been on the film, was worthy of an Oscar nomination. 

Along with Simon Pegg, there is a absolutely killer supporting cast. As previously mentioned, Rosamund Pike plays Clara, Pegg’s  girlfriend who works for a drug company. Her character could have been the run-of-the-mill nagging girlfriend type, but Pike brings a certain level of gravitas to the role. Along with Pike, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno, and Christopher Plummer round out the supporting cast. Skarsgard is fantastic as always, playing a millionaire businessman who meets Pegg on the plane to Shanghai. Jean Reno plays a drug lord in Africa who inadvertently saves Pegg’s life, yet need’s his help to save his marriage. While he is only on screen a few times, every time he is he manages to completely steal the scenes. Christopher Plummer plays Professor Coreman, who heads up the Happiness Studies at UCLA, and his role is unlike anything I’ve ever seen Plummer do. He wears a hoodie and a beanie in his time on-screen, looking more like a hipster grandpa than a college professor. It’s an unexpected role for him, but one that totally works.

The final message of the film is something that anyone can take to heart: being happy is all of the emotions, not just one specific emotion. This message is put together over the film through the use of Pegg’s journal, given to him by Clara. Each of the people he meets, or situations he’s in, offers another entry into his journal, serving as the framework of the film. It’s an interesting way to progress the film, and one that works in the scope of the film’s message. Some of the messages in the film are also pretty great, including the hilarious “sweet potato stew”. You’ll have to check out the film to see how it factors in.

Hector and the Search for Happiness is a movie that flew under the radar for me, Though I knew it existed, I may not have watched it without Clay’s suggestion. Pegg and the supporting cast make the film worth watching, especially Pegg and Plummer’s performances. If you’re looking for a film that not only has an upbeat message but also features some great performances, then check it out.

Final Say: Watch It 

Get ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ on Amazon

This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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