Hector And The Search For Happiness

by Charles Nash

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 26, 2014

Veronica Ferres and Simon Pegg star in 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'
Veronica Ferres and Simon Pegg star in 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'  

At one point during "Hector and the Search for Happiness," the new, appalling grotesquerie of a motion picture from director Peter Chelsom ("Hannah Montana: The Movie"), I felt as if my body had become a volcano that erupted with unspeakable amounts of rage. As a desperate cry for help, I tapped a fellow colleague of mine on the shoulder and handed them my notepad, in which I had written down in all capital letters, "This film makes me want to die."

I may be young and naïve compared to a majority of film critics working today, but I've seen my fair share of trash, and it takes a lot for a movie to offend me in the ways that this cinematic monstrosity did. It's not just that it fails as a comedy, despite the fact that it contains about as many laughs as watching a loved one undergo life-threatening surgery; it's that the picture is so racist, so sexist, and so mercilessly condescending to everyone who's not a white, over-privileged male character.

Considering that I myself am a white, typically over-privileged male member of society, you'd think that the story of Hector and his pursuit for discovering the true meaning of happiness by traveling across several exotic locations around the world might have some form of appeal to someone like me, especially considering I didn't even attend a college outside of my home state.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the premise of the movie is endearing enough, and Simon Pegg, who I've adored since his breakout role as the title character in Edgar Wright's millennial cult-hit, "Shaun of the Dead," stars as the title character of the film, the execution of "Hector and the Search for Happiness" is about as elegant as watching a car drive off of a cliff.

Let me explain. Pegg's Hector is a narcissistic brat of a psychiatrist who not for one second seems to have any interest in helping his patients with their problems, yet he consistently complains that their moods aren't improving. He has a gorgeous, compassionate wife named Clara (the lovely Rosamund Pike) who consistently bends over backwards to please him, but he never appreciates her. One day, he has a hypocritical meltdown during the middle of a session with a client, and decides that he needs to go on a personal adventure in an attempt to uncover the ultimate secret as to what makes people happy.

Few things are worse than a feel-good movie that makes you nauseous, and "Hector and the Search for Happiness" is about as appealing as vomiting up blood.

First he goes to China, where he cheats on Clara by hopping into bed with a Chinese woman he just met, only to be let down the next morning by the reveal that she's actually a prostitute, despite the fact that she's clearly fallen in love with him. Her pimp arrives on a motorcycle, yells at her for not getting paid, slaps her in the face, forces her onto the back of his bike, and drives away with her.

Next, he goes to Africa, which, by the way, is only referred to as 'Africa,' because it's all just one giant country, right? Hector encounters a bunch of racial stereotypes by volunteering at a hospital, offers life-altering wisdom to a drug kingpin (Jean Reno), wakes up to gunshots in the middle of the night (played for laughs, of course) and ends up getting horribly abused in a prison cell by a bunch of gang lords.

He then becomes enlightened by the life-story of a stranger who's conveniently dying of cancer during his flight to Los Angeles, where he attempts to win back an old-flame played by Toni Collette, ends up at the office of a quirky psychologist (Christopher Plummer), and eventually learns to embrace the life he has.

Yeah, it's as gross as it sounds. On top of that, the film is so painfully sincere in its attempt to convey such a big heart, that it actually becomes all the more repulsive in nature.

Few things are worse than a feel-good movie that makes you nauseous, and "Hector and the Search for Happiness" is about as appealing as vomiting up blood.