Hector and the Search for Happiness

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Hector and the Search for Happiness Movie Poster Image
Man's quest for meaning has some swearing, risqué moments.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

If you find yourself lost, metaphorically speaking, travel might be a way to find yourself and come back home. And it's important to be aware of your own issues, or you won't be able to change for the better.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hector is stuck in a very comfortable rut, but he challenges himself because he wants to be better -- to be a better, more interesting person and to learn how best to treat those he loves.


A drug lord threatens a traveler's life. Kidnappers beat up a character and threaten to shoot him point-blank; he's bloodied and scared in an extended sequence. In another scene, a man pushes a woman around. He hits her, and she hits back.


A naked woman lies next to a man while asleep; her backside is visible. A woman prances around in her underwear while Skyping. Couples kiss. A prostitute propositions a man at a bar.


Strong language includes "s--t," "hell," and many uses of "f--k."


Lots of brands/products are spotted, including Skype, BMW, the New York Times, iPod, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Ferrari. In one scene, a man talks about how money buy happiness -- sort of.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Friends get drunk at a bar. A guy talks about being a drug dealer. Some discussion about the proper dosage for prescription pills. Social drinking and the like.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hector and the Search for Happiness -- which is based on the novel by Francois Lelord -- blends humor with a thought-provoking plot about a middle-aged man's identity crisis. Much of it is light and breezy, but a lot of it is ponderous, too, and may not appeal to younger viewers. Expect some swearing (mostly "s--t" and "f--k"), drinking (mostly social, though characters do get drunk at one point), partial nudity (a naked woman's backside is shown), kissing, and references to drug dealing. There's also an extended sequence in which a man is shown in a jail cell, clearly terrified, beaten (both physically and emotionally), and on the edge of his sanity.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byStevie111 May 7, 2015

Sometimes funny movie is more dramatic/boring

I absolutely love Simon Pegg, but I thought this movie dragged and wasn't as funny as it was dramatic. I was very disappointed with the film, but it was we... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byES9803 May 5, 2015

Very good movie with some swearing

This is a pretty mild R overall. There is a descent amount of swearing, and it can get pretty sad and serious at times. But overall, a very very good movie.

What's the story?

Hector (Simon Pegg) has a good life -- at least on paper. He's a therapist with a thriving practice. He lives with his hyper-efficient girlfriend, Clara (Rosamund Pike), who anticipates and takes care of his every single need in the very neat apartment they live in. But is he happy? How can he be when he's phoning it in at work and unsure of where his relationship is headed? And his life is choreographed to the minute; he never strays from the tried and true, and he won't take any risks. Determined to figure out how to become a happy person, Hector decides to travel the globe, first to China -- where he meets a very successful, though not terribly happy, business executive (Stellan Skarsgaard) -- and then to Africa, where he has a run-in with a drug lord (Jean Reno) and looks up a dear friend he hasn't seen for years. Finally he heads to Los Angeles, where an old flame from college (Toni Collette) awaits. What does it all mean for Hector and Clara?

Is it any good?

HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (based on the novel by Francois Lelord) has a stodgy diligence that takes away from its cheery charm. Because even though many of its takeaways won't necessarily be enlightening (like the sixth item on Hector's list -- "Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness"), that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't true, or at least helpful. Such is the joy of the movie, which revels in its straightforward yet resonant plot. It's just fun to watch.

But that doesn't quite make up for the fact that, as noted, none of his epiphanies are really surprises. And Pegg's considerable energy is tamped down in a role that constrains his natural gifts. See Hector to be reminded of what you may already know but have forgotten -- life is what you make it -- and enjoy it on that level.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hector and the Search for Happiness' messages. What is it saying about life and happiness? Who do you think those messages are most intended to reach/impact?

  • Does the film portray Hector's identity crisis believably? What do you think of the lessons he learned over the course of the movie?

  • How does the movie depict drinking? Are there realistic consequences?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love travel stories

Themes & Topics

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