Simon Pegg, best known for “Shawn of the Dead”, “The Worlds End”, and most recently as Scotty in the new “Star Trek” movies, stars in this adaptation of the book by the same name by François Lelord. It costars some brilliant actors including Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgård, and Christopher Plummer.
Simon plays the role of Hector, a psychiatrist who is very comfortable with his ultra ordered life, with everything all neat and tidy in his world. Then he finds himself not quite as comfortable as he thought he was when he begins having difficulty helping his clients find their true happiness and realizes he doesn’t really know what true happiness is.
He then decides, with the help of one of his clients who is a psychic, that he should go on a voyage to find out what happiness is to better serve his patients, and himself, much to the dismay of his live-in girlfriend played by Rosamund Pike.
Hector’s journey takes him first to China on board a plane where he meets a very successful businessman, Stellan Skarsgård, also on his way to China. He takes it upon himself to assist Hector in his quest by treating him to an expensive hotel suite and unbeknownst to Hector, contracts with a girl to provide him with what he considers at least temporary happiness for one night. Hector learns a painful lesson about how different people define happiness.
His further journeys include a trek into the mountains to a monastery where the monks seem to be happy, and then off to Africa to find a friend from his younger days. On his way to Africa he is on board a small propeller driven plane which he finds very unsettling until the native lady sitting next to him makes the following observation: “If you look at this plane, you’ll notice it’s quite old. That means it’s never crashed before. Should be quite reassuring,”
What ensues after brings out a side to Simon Pegg’s acting that we don’t often see as he finds himself in his dramatic, unexpected situations. There is some breathtaking imagery in Africa as Hector continues his mission of discovery, which then leads him to Los Angeles where he searches our another old friend played by Toni Collette who connects him with a fellow psychiatrist colleague played by the legendary Christopher Plummer.
Everyone leaving the theater at the screening I attended enjoyed the film and didn’t seem to mind the two hour length at all. I enjoyed the story in spite of it seeming rife with cliches and stereotypes.
Some people will try to take it too seriously and forget that Simon Pegg is above all else a brilliant comic actor. But as I mentioned before, I feel it stretches Simon Pegg’s acting abilities farther than we have seen him in previous films. Please post your comments below as to whether you agree or not.