Monday, May 4, 2015

Netflix Mail Day Movie Review: "Hector and the Search for Happiness" (2014)

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Movie"Hector and the Search for Happiness"
Director: Peter Chelsom
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Hector is a psychiatrist who is growing tired of listening to his patients' mundane problems, and he feels like he's not helping them to his full extent. He is not very happy where he is in life and figures, how can he help people be happy if he's not happy himself? In order to find out what makes one happy, he decides to temporarily leave job, his girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike), and his life of psychiatry behind and tour the world doing research in search of an answer to the question: what makes a person happy?

If you watch the trailer for "Hector and the Search for Happiness," it seems like this film would be the feel good comedic journey of self-discovery for one stuffy psychiatrist. In reality, this movie leans much more towards the dramatic with all the funny bits advertised in the trailer. These funny moments are there in actuality, but they are few and far between, which once again misleads the audience into thinking what they are about to watch is a comedy. While Hector does go on a journey of self-discovery, he faces a whole lot of misery in his pursuit of happiness. He is at a crossroads in his life and in his relationship. He is focused on the fantasies of what could have been, rather than facing and appreciating the realities of what he has. We have to say straight off the bat that we love Simon Pegg, who fills the title role of Hector, the unhappy psychiatrist. Pegg is able to convey such emotion by just using his face, which is a quality we really enjoy about him as an actor. He has such a huge, happy smile when he wants to have one! Pegg is good in this more dramatic part, which is a change from the types of films we are use to seeing him in, but really, it's not his fault he had such crap to work with. Hector wants to find himself, and virtually the drop of a hat, he decides to he wants to upheave his entire life under the guise of 'research' about what makes people happy. In doing so, he has to leave behind his girlfriend Clara, played by Rosamund Pike. He doesn't want her with him, but he selfishly doesn't want to let her go, either. Clara is frustrated about this and it's putting a strain on their relationship, especially considering she believes he is still harboring feelings for an old flame named Agnes, played by Toni Collette, whom he visits on his journey. During his travels, Hector meets a wealthy multi-millionaire, a prostitute, a Buddhist monk with an internet connection, a drug dealer, his friend who is a doctor doing charity work in Africa, some African villagers, a warlord who holds him prisoner for several days, a woman recovering from brain cancer, and as we just mentioned, his ex-girlfriend Agnes, and another psychiatrist specializing in happiness, played by Christopher Plummer. Gee, what a trip! We'd be lucky to meet one or two of those types of people on a vacation/research trip. Along the way, he is able to get all of their ideas about what makes each of them happy, despite their vastly different situations. This is a noble undertaking and we think the filmmakers wanted these interactions to have a little more punch, but they just didn't tug those heart strings or generate the impact one would hope. In fact, not just these interactions are like this. The movie as a whole is rather lackluster from the start, even with such a splendid cast that we typically enjoy. The movie is also pretty poorly paced and drags at many points throughout, which can only mean that it fails to keep the audience fully engaged. Though we feel a little duped, it's not a complete waste of time, but "Hector and the Search for Happiness" isn't anything to write home about or even watch again.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 35%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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