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TIFF WATCH: Simon Pegg & Peter Chelsom Talk Brit Flicks and 'Hector & The Search For Happiness' (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 14, 2014 at 4:51PM

Peter Chelsom makes a welcome return to witty British moviemaking with "Hector and the Search for Happiness," starring two of my faves, Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike. Based on a bestselling memoir by a real-life French psychiatrist, the anglicized movie version follows stick-in-the-mud shrink Hector (Pegg) on a quest around the world for happiness. I talk to Pegg and Chelsom on video below.
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Peter Chelsom and Simon Pegg on 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'
Peter Chelsom and Simon Pegg on 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'

Anglophile alert!

One of my favorite unsung movies is Peter Chelsom's "Funny Bones," a portrait of comic performers at the British seaside resort Blackpool. It's a very specific, happy/sad movie with terrific performances from Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis and especially Lee Evans, who channels Buster Keaton. It didn't make much of a splash back in 1995, but it's one of Chelsom's own favorites, and he makes a welcome return to that kind of witty British moviemaking with "Hector and the Search for Happiness," starring two of my other faves, Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike. 

Based on a bestselling memoir by a real-life French psychiatrist, the anglicized movie follows stick-in-the-mud shrink Hector (Pegg) on a quest around the world for happiness. He leaves behind his fiance (Pike) to connect with strangers, from a wealthy businessman (Stellan Skarsgard) who shows him around Shanghai and a monk in Tibet to a dangerous gangster in Africa (Jean Reno). He also reconnects with his first love in Los Angeles (Toni Collette). The movie is a far smaller-budgeted version of Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," in that through his adventures our hapless ordinary fellow becomes a far more confident and romantic hero. But does he find happiness? 

'Hector and the Search for Happiness'
'Hector and the Search for Happiness'

There's a typically complex financial backstory to the making of this indie crowdpleaser that involved Chelsom going hat in hand to old friend Robbie Brenner at Relativity Media, which is releasing the movie. (She also supported "Dallas Buyers' Club" and "Out of the Furnace" last year.) I suspect that this film may be a commercially accessible 'tweener that is neither upscale arthouse nor hipster cool. Reviewers have not been kind so far--it opens this week in the UK and other countries around the world-- but the film may drum up more support at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival before its September 19th opening in North America. 

Check out the utterly charming Pegg and Chelsom below. 


This article is related to: Peter Chelsom, Simon Pegg, Hector and the Search for Happiness, Video, Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.