Many people have given up on the quest for happiness. They find in this subject a descent into clichés, shallow thinking, and phony sentiments. Meanwhile, more blogs, websites, and videos keep popping up on how to be happy. Colleges and universities are designing courses and research projects about happiness. We stand with those who are open to any exploration of joy and contentment, even if these probes are flawed and incomplete.

Hector and The Search for Happiness is an adult parable about a London therapist who feels he is a mediocre human being who has not experienced the adventure and richness of life. One of his clients adds to this feeling of dismay by telling him that he is just going through the motions in his counseling practice.

Hector (Simon Pegg) is blessed with a loving finance Clara (Rosamund Pike) who takes care of him by handling the messy details of their lives. After putting his house in order, Hector takes off on his global quest for the meaning of happiness. Clara stays behind and they communicate via Skype.

A hedonistic and incredibly wealthy banker (Stellan Skarsgard) introduces Hector to the wild side of Shanghai and the things that money can buy. The therapist begins to write down the bits of wisdom that he picks up here and there in his experiences and encounters with others. Lesson No.1 is "Making comparisons can spoil your happiness." "Happiness often comes when least expected" is another truth that is essential to self-growth. Following in the train of many other spiritual seekers, Hector meets with monks in the Himalayas. He learns that "Sometimes happiness is not knowing the full story."

In Africa, Hector connects with an old school friend (Barry Atsma) who is doing medical mission work. Many honorable people in the world derive great meaning from serving others. Others use violence to achieve their goals: Hector is kidnapped by an African gang and held for ransom. The only thing that saves his life is that a drug wheeler dealer (Jean Reno) owes him a favor. Hector is set free, and he realizes how acts of kindness reverberate and come back to you as gifts of grace.

Peter Chelsom (Hear My Song) directs this philosophical tale with respect for Hector's search for meaning. He comes to see that:

• "Listening is loving."

• "Happiness is being with the people you love."

• "Happiness is not a destination but a state of being."