Hector and the Search for Happiness
- James Mottram
- 11 August 2014
Simon Pegg fails to turn on the charm in this story of a self-indulgent globe-trotter
As far as his British films go, whenever Simon Pegg is shorn of his Shaun of the Dead team (director and co-writer Edgar Wright, producer Nira Park and co-star Nick Frost) he flounders. Think Burke and Hare, A Fantastic Fear of Everything or Run, Fatboy, Run to name but three. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t exactly bucked by his latest, Hector and the Search for Happiness. Pegg plays Hector, a mildly depressed psychiatrist who goes on a life-changing hop around the globe to find the secret to what makes people happy.
Getting on a plane at the drop of a hat, he soon meets Stellan Skarsgård’s wealthy businessman, who shows him a good time when they land in Shanghai. From there, he pops over to Africa to see an old friend, bumping into Jean Reno’s arms-dealer and nearly losing his life in the process, before heading to Los Angeles to see an old flame (Toni Collette), now happily married with kids.
Based on the French novel by François Lelord, though with Hector’s base changed to London, the film’s success lives or dies by whether you fancy spending two hours with a self-indulgent, naval-gazer for a hero. Pegg, as likeable as he can be, doesn’t exactly turn on the charm here. And it doesn’t help that this somewhat unsympathetic and nerdy looking fellow has an impossibly good looking girlfriend (in the shape of Rosamund Pike).
Directed by Peter Chelsom, the result is a rambling travelogue that needs considerable pruning. Chelsom, who once upon a time directed acclaimed films like Funny Bones before he went to Hollywood to make Hannah Montana: The Movie among others, seems too enthralled with Pegg or Hector to be the man to do it. Mildly entertaining at best, don’t expect it to contribute to your own quest for contentment.
General release from Fri 15 Aug.