For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Feb. 6, 2015

One of my favorite films last year was “Hector and the Search for Happiness” (R), a delightful British comedy that has arrived on DVD this week.

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist who is increasingly dissatisfied with his life and work. So he tells his live-in girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) that he wants leave for an around-the-world adventure to research what makes people happy. When she becomes upset he assures her he’ll be back.


Rosamund Pike, Simon Pegg, 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'

Hector’s first stop is China. Along the way, he becomes acquainted with jaded businessman Edward (Stellan Skarsgard), who believes that happiness comes from upscale material things.

He demonstrates this by taking Hector to an expensive dinner and then to an exclusive nightclub, where Hector meets and begins to fall for a beautiful young woman — but later discovers she is a hooker hired by Edward.

Next, he heads out for the mountains to find a monastery. Then he’s off to Africa to see a friend that has devoted his life to a clinic there, and later he discovers a secret about him that explains the friend’s happiness.

While there, he also has a run-in with a drug lord (Jean Reno), an encounter that leads to his later being saved from kidnappers.


   Simon Pegg in China, 'Hector and the Search for Happiness'

Finally, he goes to Los Angeles to look up an old flame (Toni Collette) and to recruit her help in contacting a famous professor (Christopher Plummer) that is researching happiness.

Throughout his journey, Hector also is in contact with Clara via phone and Skype, at first happily, then with inevitable conflicts and ultimately a break-up — until a pivotal phone call that changes everything.

If I were going to compare “Hector and the Search for Happiness” to another film it would be the Ben Stiller version of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (2013) — which is also an underrated gem that I found quite wonderful.

There’s something about the comic voyages of discovery that lead each of these characters to a delightful series of adventures and make for a very satisfying — and dare I say, uplifting — time at the movies.