Simon Pegg may have come to wide audience awareness with his comedic work with co-star Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.
With his work in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek franchise and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and the upcoming Mission Impossible 5, Pegg is seriously branching out. But, nothing can prepare you for the hurricane of talent that Pegg shows with his turn in Hector and the Search for Happiness.
As shown in the Hector and the Search for Happiness trailer, Pegg is Hector -- a psychiatrist who comes to a thunderous realization that he doesn’t know what it means to be happy. He feels like a fraud to his patients. Even though he has a fantastic girlfriend (Rosamund Pike), a successful practice and a wonderful home, Hector has no idea what it means to be happy.
So, he drops everything and flies around the world to discover other people’s definition of that elusive emotion.
From Shanghai to war-torn Africa and then to the beaches of Venice Beach, California, Hector gets a varied view of happiness from an eclectic group of souls and all the while, he’s keeping track of all of it in his own little book of notes, quotes and drawings that will come to define not only happiness, but also Hector himself.
Pegg is astounding and a complete and utter revelation. There are a lot of deep subjects explored here, but there is still plenty of room for his comic gifts and his magnanimous smile certainly gets its fair share of moments to shine.
What is also fascinating in Peter Chelsom’s film (he also co-wrote the screenplay with Maria von Heland) is that the lessons learned by Hector could also be applied to many who view this movie, regardless of where they are on the road of life. It is an insightful piece that keenly knows the human spirit. It is also forward thinking enough to touch on numerous cultures and how they define happiness (Tibetan monks, African war lords, international billionaires and even a Chinese prostitute -- to name a few), aiding in Hector’s search for the meaning of happiness.
As many people as there are, there could be that many meanings of the titular emotion, and that becomes painfully clear through the film. Chelsom has also managed to keep his pacing perfect as the ebb and flow of the story reflects the frailty of human emotion and how it can change on a dime due to circumstances, situations and even the minutest moments of time.
Our Hector and the Search for Happiness review finds the film simultaneously a spiritual and powerful cinematic story as well as a film that touches on all the feelings that make us human. Hector’s journey is a glorious adventure for the audience, and all the while you won’t realize that by the end credits, you too will be examining your life and in the most honest and true ways.