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Hector and the Search for Happiness – NETFLIX Navigator 3.5
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Hector and the Search for Happiness – NETFLIX Navigator

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*Welcome to our series simply called “NETFLIX Navigator”. Here we will discuss the films we find on Netflix in 2 parts. First, whether or not you should watch it if you haven’t seen it, and second, a discussion of it’s plot, flow, acting and more. Please if you engage with us in the comments remember to call out spoilers. Thanks for joining!

The Film:

Hector and the Search for Happiness
Director: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgård

Should I watch this film? (Spoiler Free Zone)

I had seen the preview for this film several times already and kept thinking that I wanted to see it (I have not read the book). I must confess my love for all things Simon Pegg is what fueled me, but just based on him alone I wasn’t going to spend any money. The thing is, the film looks cheesy at first glance. A privileged, wealthy, white male therapist living in a very nice flat in London is bored with his life, so he decides to take off on a journey to find what happiness truly is. Oh God. The setup in the actual film is a little more detailed than that, but not much… The only thing you can hope for going into a film like this is that the talented cast will bring you some real feels (and not bore you to death) and hopefully not be too insensitive to the cultures that Hector is going to visit.

Here’s the thing, I judge movies I happen to watch on Netflix or any other streaming service differently than I judge a movie I paid for. As I sat down to write this review, I must confess I do this every time, I looked at what other critics said about this movie. They were less, than, kind. Most were angry with 2 things. First is Hector. Most critics argue that Hector’s character is empty and boring. Sheila O’Malley at RogertEbert.com says: “Hector’s realizations, though, would be self-evident to any child who has seen a Disney movie, not to mention the fact that these realizations have already been expressed, and far better, by some of the greatest writers and thinkers in history.” And there is the second thing the critics hated about this movie, that it’s all be done before, and that it’s not artistic and beautiful enough for them. Here’s another quote from that same article, “It’s chain-mail wisdom, sprinkled with balloons and kitty-cat faces, forwarded by people with too much time on their hands.”

Honestly. This kind of writing is what’s so wrong with critics to me. We can’t have fun anymore without every single thing being destroyed as not serious enough. We’re branded insensitive to everyone’s problems any time we try and talk about our own. Don’t we all remember a time when a film could not be perfect in every way but still have more than a 1 star by all the major critics? Take a look at the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s nearly double. IMDB has about the same breakdown with 6.9/10 liking it through user ratings but only 29% liking it on meta critic. I’m not saying to trust the masses, that would be a mistake. Jesus just consider some of the pop music out there. I’m saying this because the film is in fact entertaining and I think normal people get that. Damn critics.

The cast is great, each one playing their parts exactly how they should in my opinion. Hector’s character for example is SUPPOSED to be shallow, something that a lot of reviewers seem to point out as a bad thing. Not every character in every movie can or should be the character you wish people were. Sometimes it’s good to follow the story of someone we can’t relate perfectly with. I hated Hector many times in the movie, and I think that’s a good thing. Why else would we hope he changes?

still-of-jean-reno-and-simon-pegg-in-hector-and-the-search-for-happiness-(2014)

I honestly thought this film was funny. Again I love Simon Pegg so I may just be biased, but his back and forth with Jean Reno for example is hilarious. I’m not saying it’s perfect, they make Hector just a wee bit too naive if you ask me, but it’s definitely funny and fun to watch. There were several laugh out loud moments.

I do have some problems with the film. For one thing it takes the cliche that people with less are more happy a little too far in some cases. When they’re in Africa for example, the film does a good job presenting some of the biggest horrors happening there, but then uses that as a way to showcase what true happiness is. I think this gets dangerously close to being a little unfair to the people there. It’s good to show that they still are happy with what they have, but I think the film does come close to ignoring too much of the pain. Still, I don’t agree with the reviewers that it’s only poverty tourism and way to make us feel good. I think there ARE lessons to be learned from those who can be happy in the face of misery and the film at least tries to go there.

I also really, really hated the scene towards the end with Hector and the research therapist. This is supposed to be the big turning point for him in the film, but there were already 2 scenes before this one that would have done just fine. This one beats you over the head with his transformation and it’s just so over the top cheesy I wanted to fast forward. It’s an unfortunate scene because if they just ended it before this one I would have given it an extra half a star total.

Eh whatever, this is a hard one to review. I enjoyed watching it and if you’re not looking for Shakespeare here I think you will too. It’s a good film for when you’re just getting ready for bed and are looking to veg out and enjoy a feel good movie. Actually this is one of it’s strong points. You don’t HAVE to take this one that seriously which unfortunately is something I think all the reviewers did.

Review
Hector and the Search for Happiness goes on too long and can be cheesy, but the cast and the fact that it's on Netflix makes this worth watching once.
Comedy
Beauty
Directing
Sophistication
Length

If you’ve already seen it, let’s discuss! (Spoilers Ahead)

There’s not much to discuss in this area since it’s not a film with twists and turns of any kind really. I will say though, now that we’re in this area, who the hell let that scene with the brain scan go through? Seriously we had everything we needed for him to learn his lesson when his ex tears into him for not growing up. He could have just ran back to Clara then and called it a film. That scene in the booth was so over the top and annoying I almost turned off the movie. Oh well. What can you do. What are your thoughts on scenes that may have ruined the movie a little bit for you?

Hector-and-the-Search-for-Happiness-that-scene

Tim Makoid 1/2 of the Tech/UX team duo, General Tim. As a kid Tim struggled with attention issues and always had that “doesn’t pay attention in class” bullshit on his report cards, despite good grades. It’s mostly because he was too busy reading comic books, trade mags, or playing game boy under his desk. He’s never been too good at sticking with one thing either. Despite his certain obsessions, he’s always been interested in all realms of geekhood: video games, comic books, comedy, movies, books, computers, user experience, development and music across all genres and types. “I’ve dabbled in everything. Hence why EchoBa.se is such a great home for me. I don’t often frequent just one corner of the internet because I’m always looking for different points of view, and this place has that!”