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By Jeff Beresford-Howe | October 19, 2007

Best dream sequence since Luke and Darth on Dagobah. The entire movie, in fact, is an homage to dream sequences, Hollywood style, and as good as any movie in terms of the way it tracks the evolution of film-convention dreams and their influences on a character’s life. Like a dream, however, the movie is too insubstantial and emotionally obscure to have much of a pay off.

Gary is a former rock and roll star whose band has long broken up; he’s fallen to commercial jingle writing – “try to make it sound more like Cheers” – and he’s in a bad relationship with Dora, a pale, whiny bitch played by Gwyneth Paltrow at her most unlikeable. He begins to have dreams about “Anna,” a girl in a white tuxedo (Penelope Cruz) who at first is almost wholly undefined, but for whom he gradually develops an obsession as his dreams fill in more and more of her personality.

Gary’s best friend Paul (Simon Pegg), a serial adulterer, and Mel (Daddy DeVito), a pathetic new age charlatan, are, unfortunately for Gary, his only guides as he struggles to make sense of his intense relationship with someone he knows only when he’s asleep. They stumble about, their advice getting Gary in deeper and deeper, to the point that Gary is so committed to Anna that he misses a chance for a real relationship with either Dora or a hot, tequila-shooting model he meets through Paul.

At first, you can understand the obsession. Cruz has never looked better than she does in this movie, and she does a great job of giving some nuance to what is after all a loser’s idea of a perfect woman. As Gary develops Anna, though, she becomes more and more of a Penthouse letter.

In fact, none of the characters in “The Good Night” develop much despite great performances from the whole cast. Pegg is hysterical, Gwyneth Paltrow brilliantly un-selfconscious, and Freeman, on screen in every scene, is thoughtful and likeable. Jake Paltrow lets them all down, though: none of the characters develop much past their initial promise, and he yanks the rug out from all of them at the end. They all violate their own characters. It’s a bad trip.

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