Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Hector sits in his office staring out of the window. He couldn’t feel any less content and disgruntled with his life. His next patient is due any minute. Which is ironic, because Hector will be listening to the moans of a person who isn’t getting any happier with their life.
Enough is enough. Surely there must be more to life than this? Maybe it is possible to be truly content.
Hector leaves his office – and heads for the airport…
Simon Pegg – Hector
Rosamund Pike – Clara
Toni Collette – Agnes
Stellan Skarsgård – Edward
Jean Reno – Diego
Christopher Plummer – Professor Coreman
Tracy Ann Oberman – Pathetic Jane
..because that is exactly what this movie was. A mix of The Pursuit of Happyness, Eat, Pray, Love, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Hector and the Search for Happiness was nothing we haven’t seen before – brought to us by a character who is someone we’ve also seen before. And the overall plot?..
..seen it before.
Seriously, whoever thought to create this movie must have been extremely bored – but got lucky, because it was commissioned. The movie follows Hector as he continent-hops from one culture to another, whilst jotting down notes in his diary (mainly tips he learns from people he meets about what makes them happy).
I kept thinking throughout the movie how it was like a low-key, British rip-off of many other Hollywood hits. Although unlinke Kristen Wiig strumming a guitar whilst looking up at Walter Mitty hanging from a helicopter, this was more Hector staring dumbfounded at a prostitute he just chatted up as she was whizzed away on a motorbike.
Hector and the Search for Happiness was basically a stab at promotion for African and Chinese holidays. Literally, the director pans from one sunset to the other whilst highlighting ‘all the great things you can do on a beach’ – you know those tour operator holidays where African ladies sit clapping their hands and bobbing their heads side to side as a tropical fruit sizzles on the stove, or that classic scene where a loved-up couple stand (random giraffe behind them) staring out across mountains in the sunset..?
Welcome to Hector and the Search for Happiness.
From airport departure lounges and first class service provided on aircrafts, to African family get-together’s and how to locate appropriate transport when going out for the evening, this movie is practically a fucking Thomson Holidays brochure.
But surely something went right?…
Simon seriously overdid it in this movie; I honestly found myself staring at the screen completely expressionless whenever he cracked a gag or bit of physical comedy. In fact, it got to the point where I started tutting at how tedious it was, and I rarely do that during a movie. For example, the scene where Hector boards his first plane: as he’s sat down he knocks a glass over. The air hostess tells him it’s fine because the glasses are unbreakable – so in reaction, Hector then picks up his plate like a child and throws it to the floor, smashing it into pieces. Suddenly the air hostess enters the scene, waffles something so fast in her Scottish accent that it is completely indecipherable, then exits again.
The scene continues, but it has to be one of the most awful attempts at comedy I have ever witnessed – the scene is flat, not funny, and not helped by the hostess who whisks in to mumble something inaudible before exiting again.
Pegg does a wonderful job of trying to be hilarious I must say. Thing is, it falls flat on its arse every time. Another scene sees him stood outside the airport terminal when a young gentleman shoves the row of trolleys he is transporting into the back of Hector – causing a flop of an attempt at slapstick falling over.
A) you would hear the clattering of the trolleys behind you
B) the airport assistant would see Hector stood there, no?
..another tut from me there.
The scene that shocked me most was when Hector gets kidnapped in Africa by a very violent gang. And it shocked me because of his ability to crack random jokes whilst having a gun pointing at his head. That’s right people, Simon Pegg is on top form as being comedic.. in a life-threatening situation. It was ridiculous to watch. The collision of heartfelt, life-affirming plot and failed slapstick made this movie bloody awful from start to finish, and in fact by mid-movie I honestly couldn’t care less what happened to Hector. I just wanted to get out of the cinema as soon as possible.
The element of this movie that won me over was Pegg’s serious acting. There were a few scenes in which his emotional side was displayed, bringing a unique and very convincing character to the screen. Simon’s ability to be straight-faced is actually rather good, especially when there are tears falling down his cheeks. This movie showcases the actor’s more serious side; his portrayal of a man upset by what he is experiencing radiates an intense emotion which is different to what I’ve seen from Simon before – he gets marks for this. He pulls it off nicely.
So although his pointless slapstick (tripping over, etc.) got on my nerves massively, the actor’s ability to actually act made up for it. As Hector stood there crying, I could feel it – well done Simon.
This is the only way I can describe Toni Collette – as a doorstop for shit movies.
A plot could be boring, a script terrible.. but as soon as Toni shows her face, the story / emotion heightens.
The door was closing on this movie, but Toni came sliding in and stopped it. As Agnes, she brings a refreshing, emotional yet witty personality to the story – and the chemistry between her and Pegg is faultless. Toni isn’t the best thing to ever happen to Hollywood, but she certainly remains a very strong actress. You can be sure any movie she is in will be glued together well because of her brilliant and genuine acting skills.
And she saved this movie – having her appear on screen was like having a sweltering office suddenly be blasted with air-con.
I’ve mentioned the very unfunny airplane scene. But it wasn’t the only one..
On his flight to Africa, Hector grows increasingly concerned about his safety onboard the aircraft due to major turbulence. The cabin shakes and rattles as if it is about to explode – then suddenly, the camera pans away from the scene and focuses on a cardboard airplane suspended by strings in front of a paper sky, being sprayed by a watering can. (like something you’d see on a young children’s television programme).
Yes, odd – but obviously a makeshift ‘rocky airplane’ scene the producers knocked up in the hopes the audience would find it funny, or unique.
It was just plane stupid.
I was beginning to think the producers had The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in mind, and were trying to live up to the same endearing, bizarre style. But their attempt at an imaginative grasp slipped from their hands completely – it didn’t work. Other scenes such as Hector trekking across mountains, befriending monks and embracing the lifestyles of older people echoed that of the journey of Walter Mitty in the 2013 film carried by Ben Stiller. It felt too copied, recycled.
Overall, Hector and the Search for Happiness was a pointless flop. Recycling what it can, it takes aspects from other movies and tries to squeeze the last few drops of endearment out of them – but ultimately fails to deliver.
The story is neither amazing nor awful – it just is.
On the plus side, Simon Pegg’s emotional acting talent came into play nicely and was the only good thing about this film – he brought something different to the screen to what he usually does.
If you go along to watch this movie with the idea you’ll be hugely inspired by a character’s life-changing story – you may be disappointed. Because in the end, all this feature is is a middle-aged gentleman moaning about his life and how to be happy – who realises in the end he IS happy, and didn’t actually need to spend hundreds of pounds travelling around the world to reach his decision. He could have just stayed at home. Bit stupid really.
I honestly WOULD NOT PAY to watch this.
Wait for the rental.