Movie Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector and the Search for Happiness ended up being a combination of Eat, Pray, Love and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, in that Hector (Simon Pegg) takes a trip around the world to find out what others consider happiness to be, and also what makes them happy. He realizes he has a routine that he does every day - meals, work, sleep, and then repeat - and he wants to get out and see the world. His girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike, soon to be starring in Gone Girl), is a bit skeptical of this, since she knows how much he likes his routine, and isn't entirely happy when he says he doesn't know when he will be back from his trip, either.

Hector first travels to China, and he makes a businessman friend on the flight over who shows him the finer things in life - first class on an airplane, dining out, and going clubbing with beautiful women. After China, he heads to Africa, where one of his friends works in a clinic; Hector will help out at the clinic for a week. His final destination is L.A., where he meets up with a woman who is another of his oldest friends (Toni Collette), and also someone with whom he was once romantically involved.

This film is a little slow, but Simon Pegg is great in it. His character often feels child-like, as we sense through flashbacks of himself as a child with his dog, and by the end of the film, he has grown up. Rosamund Pike was good here as well, but I actually liked Toni Collette's performance better, even though she was only in the last 1/3 or 1/4 of the movie; her character feels more realistic, in a sense.

Yes, see this movie, but I will say that Hector is not a character I thought about days after the movie, whereas Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) I still think about now and then. The film is almost like a Walter Mitty "lite" - there are some profound things, but nothing earth-shattering or life-changing. I did like that Hector keeps a journal with doodles and also the keys to happiness (gems like "fear will keep you from being happy" and so on), which are also written out on the screen once he records them in the book. I also enjoyed the scenery in this movie, as China, Africa, and L.A. definitely stand out on the screen. I'd recommend this film for fans of EPL and Mitty, just don't expect an exact replica of either.

Hector and the Search for Happiness is in theaters today, September 26th, and is rated R with a runtime of 114 minutes. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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