The Good Night proves to be a Bad Night

The Good Night Starring: Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Danny DeVito, Michael Gambon, Amber Rose Sealey; Dir: Jake Paltrow; Cert: 15; 1hr 33mIt takes a special kind of talent to cast Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg in a contemporary comedy and then to make it incredibly unfunny.

Andrew Clarke

The Good Night Starring: Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Penelope Cruz, Danny DeVito, Michael Gambon, Amber Rose Sealey; Dir: Jake Paltrow; Cert: 15; 1hr 33m

It takes a special kind of talent to cast Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg in a contemporary comedy and then to make it incredibly unfunny.

The Good Night stars Britain's two leading comic actors as a pair of former 1990s pop stars now living and working in New York. It quickly transpires that they are both suffering from a mid-life crisis. Pegg is now a partner in a well regarded and influential advertising agency who employs Freeman as a writer of jingles and incidental music.


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But, there is something special about Freeman's character, Gary, as various talking heads, including Jarvis Cocker, are being interviewed and are talking about him in the past tense. As a former girlfriend says: “I always knew he was going to be famous… but not for this.”

Freeman is living with the uptight art gallery curator Dora (Gwyneth Paltrow) and he is having trouble sleeping. They are not getting on and Freeman's Gary is starting to have fantasy dreams about an exotic woman (Penelope Cruz) who is walking, impeccably dressed by the sea shore or is writhing semi-naked on the floor of a very expensive country house.

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Meanwhile Pegg is conducting a none-too-secret affair with a young groupie in a sad attempt to recapture his fast disappearing youth. “It's like being on tour again,” he enthuses.

As much of the film is conducted in a dream-like state it is not-too-clear what is exactly going on. There are several attempts at black humour but they sadly fall flat. The fact that the characters are unlikeable individuals and their view of the world is largely a misogynistic mess means that we don't feel like laughing at their frankly, sad take on life. Wallowing in self-pity is never an attractive trait - particularly when they spend their time either lusting after women half their age or dreaming of models who would be nothing more than full-size dolls for them to mould and control.

Jake Paltrow tries to make a virtue of the dreamscape scenario but it falls woefully short of Michel Gondy's similar exploration in the brilliant The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The fact that this is a very British looking film but is obviously and cynically set in New York is an irritation but it wouldn't have mattered had it been funny. The fact it isn't only serves to highlight a plethora of minor annoyances. Michael Gambon turns up for one scene - why? It doesn't serve the plot.

The Good Night had the potential to be a funny, quirky look at modern life. Instead it turns out to be an unfunny mess and without an obvious audience.

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