xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
Peter Chelsom's "Hector and the Search for Happiness" (based on the book by François Lelord, a psychiatrist in real-life, just like the eponymous Hector) treats happiness as an easily-digestible cross-stitched homily, the kind hung as harmless decorations in people's living rooms. It's chain-mail wisdom, sprinkled with balloons and kitty-cat faces, forwarded by people with too much time on their hands. It's "Eat, Pray, Love"-lite, and "Eat, Pray, Love" was already "lite." One of the things "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Hector" have in common is that they feature economically privileged people with enough disposable income that they can leave their jobs for an indeterminate period of time and take multiple international flights on their quest to understand themselves.
Hector (Simon Pegg) is a psychiatrist. His patients bore him, and he has a hard time empathizing with them anymore (if he ever did). He has a girlfriend named Clara (Rosamund Pike), who works for a pharmaceutical company, and is congratulated by her boss at a company meeting for "never having heard of the two following words-'maternity' and 'leave.'" Hector and Clara have a tidy high-end life, make each other laugh, seem to complement one another, and yet still, Hector is lost. He packs a backpack and flies to China. Why China, we don't know.
During Hector's worldwide search for happiness, he scribbles down realizations in his journal, numbering them neatly and accompanying each one with drawings. The drawings sometimes become animated, showing Hector's growing sense that the world is alive with beauty and mystery.
Hector's realizations, though, would be self-evident to any child who has seen a Disney movie, not to mention the fact that these realizations have already been expressed, and far better, by some of the greatest writers and thinkers in history. Hector may want to save the money spent on international airfare and just stay home and read Shakespeare's plays, or George Eliot's novels or Carl Dennis's poetry. Hector, as played by the very talented Simon Pegg, is a man so shallow he has never asked himself any personal questions involving any depth whatsoever. That's quite a feat for a man pushing 40. "Hector and the Search for Happiness" is extremely forgiving of its lead character, treating his quest romantically. There are a couple of moments when other characters point out Hector's faults (one fight scene with his ex-girlfriend, played by Toni Colette, puts it extremely plainly), but those moments end up calling into question the point of the entire film. While understanding that "Hector and the Search for Happiness" is meant to be a parable, and not realistic, it uses the most condescending fortune-cookie thinking possible, not to mention calling in entire foreign nations to act as props to highlight one man's quest for enlightenment.