The world didn’t need a male version of “Eat Pray Love,” but it got one anyway with “Hector and the Search for Happiness,” an insipid, cloying fantasy masked as a spiritually uplifting tale of self-fulfillment.

Here we find Hector (Simon Pegg), a well-to-do psychologist in London whose tidy, uncomplicated life with his loyal, adoring girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike), leaves him feeling empty inside. So, with his bottomless bank account and open-ended schedule — never mind all his patients and their annoying needs — he sets off on a worldwide journey in search of the happiness that eludes him. Because it’s that easy.

What he finds in his travels to China, Africa and beyond is that, hey, foreign cultures are really neat! And travel is enlightening! And jetting around the world without a care is a pretty swell way to spend one’s time!

Along the way, he jots down notes and doodles in his trusty notebook, picking up dime store platitudes along the way. “Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.” Wow, thanks for the life lesson.

“Hector and the Search for Happiness” is adapted from François Lelord’s 2002 novel and directed with a heavy hand by Peter Chelsom, whose last movie was “Hannah Montana.” The shallow conceit of the film is that happiness is found within one’s self, but taking a globetrotting adventure sure doesn’t hurt. Along the way, the film’s embarrassing treatment of foreign cultures will make you wince — sweet potato stew may never recover — almost as much as its doling out pap as worldly wisdom.

“Hector” sets out on a search for happiness, but it winds up finding something we can all hate.

‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’


Rated R for language and some brief nudity

Running time: 120 minutes

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