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First Reviews: 'Hector and the Search for Happiness' Told to Search Some Other Place

Criticwire By Max O'Connell | Criticwire August 14, 2014 at 12:44PM

The new Simon Pegg film made UK critics very unhappy.
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Simon Pegg in 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'
Simon Pegg in 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'

Few comic actors working today show as much talent and promise as Simon Pegg, so it's disappointing to see most of his non-Edgar Wright-directed starring roles turn out so dismally. It looks like things aren't getting any better: Pegg's new film "Hector and the Search for Happiness" just released in the UK, and the critics are livid.

Pegg stars as a quirky psychiatrist tired of his boring life (*alarm*). He decides to go on a global journey to find himself (*ALARM*). The film co-stars Rosamund Pike as his girlfriend, Stellan Skarsgard as a cynical rich man he befriends on a plane to China, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette, and Jean Reno. What separates this film from other failed Pegg vehicles like "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" and "The Fantastic Fear of Everything" is the relentless uplift of the "Eat, Pray, Love" kind. If the film is as Hallmark-y as the trailer suggests ("We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but the happiness of the pursuit"), yikes.

"Hector and the Search for Happiness" hits US theaters September 19.

Cath Clarke, Time Out

In Africa, Hector bounces babies. In the Himalayas he zens out with a Buddhist monk. What does he learn? That happiness is Being Loved for Who You Are, and, Avoiding the Road to Unhappiness is Not the Road to Happiness. In other words, nothing he couldn’t have picked up with a sneaky lunchtime browse on self-help websites. Read more.


Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

Hector’s girlfriend, Clara, stoically played by Rosamund Pike, is a grim pot-pourri of the bleakest entitlement fantasies ever to ooze from the collective misogynist id. She fields webcam conversations in her underwear, orgasms promptly during sex, and has no interest in marriage and children. In fact, her mothering instincts seem to be satisfied by Hector himself, whom she sends off to work every morning with a packed lunch and a peck on a cheek. Read more.


Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

This attempt to scale the moral high ground is a bit rich coming from a movie in which the protagonist sets off for an insultingly non-specific land called “Africa," where folk are either jolly and poor or gun-toting thugs (and poor) and there are a few lions about. The characters in China, where Hector journeys before his African sojourn, have fractionally more dimensionality. At least one or two have names, but given the fact that out of the four characters with dialogue, one is a tart-with-a-heart prostitute and the other’s her violent pimp, it’s not a massive improvement. In truth, the script is an equal-opportunities offender, rendering characters from all over the globe with the same crassness of execution. That even goes for the hero, a self-absorbed twit whom Pegg fails to imbue with much charm, even if it’s refreshing to see him trying to extend his dramatic range here. Read more.


Jamie Neish, Cine Vue

Plays out like a mid-life crises - only one that's nauseating, irksome and stuffed to the hilts with hackneyed dialogue and corny sentimentality. The film doesn't seem to be in possession of any form of moral compass (Hector has only left the country for five minutes before he's hopping in bed with a prostitute), and all traces of humanity have been sucked dry by a need to be whimsy for whimsy's sake. Read more.

Olly Richards, Empire

It’s hard to like Hector, a man who cheats on his girlfriend within days of leaving her and moans in the face of great fortune. Cod philosophical insights of the sort you might see printed over a photo of a sunset on Facebook don’t help. Read more.


This article is related to: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Hector and the Search for Happiness


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