Hector and The Search For Happiness (15)★★★✩✩
Movie buffs cannot resist commenting on film website message boards. Months before any release, there is a tangible buzz of anticipation or overwhelming sense of dread expressed by users, and these ponderings - some perceptive, others illiterate - are there for cast and crew to see.
This week, the message board consensus was one of support for Simon Pegg, the eponymous hero in Hector and The Search For Happiness, though a few doubts were expressed about the film's director, Peter Chelsom, whose last credit was Hannah Montana: The Movie.
I hope Mr Chelsom didn't see the remarks as I'm sure he would rather be acknowledged for directing Serendipity (my husband's favourite) and Funny Bones (one of my own), a British masterpiece following the travails of an eccentric showbiz family in Blackpool.
Chelsom's latest offering is an adaptation of French psychiatrist François Lelord's book about a psychiatrist (Pegg), who lives a comfortable but mundane existence while trying to sort out the life issues troubling his colourful collection of patients.
Aware that he is as clueless about real happiness as his angst-ridden clients, Hector unexpectedly sets off on a global quest to find some answers, which comes as a blow to his devoted girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike). Thanks to Skype he is able to stay in touch with Clara as he makes his way through China, Africa and LA, meeting the sort of people who might never have crossed his professional threshold and who pass on their own "happiness" theories, most of which are blatantly obvious.
Among the life coaches are Stellan Skarsgard, who plays a millionaire businessman and a fat Jean Reno of Leon fame, who is cast as an African drug dealer with a heart - and problems of his own.Though the pearls of wisdom Hector receives are pedestrian, the notebook he enters them in is vividly brought to life with a nod to Wes Anderson.
There are sweet moments throughout that make the trek interesting, if not the findings. As for Pegg, well I wish I could share the message board enthusiasm but he is just too one-note for me. Yet somehow Chelsom makes the whole thing work.