Nicely shrink wrapped, but I’m off the Pegg

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -


MOVIE BUFFS can­not re­sist com­ment­ing on film web­site mes­sage boards. Months b e f o r e a n y 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 Serendip- ity (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.

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