40 Days And 40 Nights


Directed by: Michael Lehmann
Written by:Rob Perez
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Paulo Costanzo, Adam Trese, Vinessa Shaw
Released: April 25, 2002
Grade: C

This film is not just failure but a spectacular failure.  The concept seemed fun, the trailers looked sweet, the cast looked healthy and yet the end result is a total write-off.  Matt Sullivan (Hartnett) is come kind of endearing sex machine.  Since he broke up with his long-term girlfriend, Nicole (Shaw), Matt’s been messed up.  He can’t get over her and every time he sleeps with someone new, he sees cracks opening up in the ceiling and the experience is ruined.  This hasn’t stopped him trying to get over his problem.  He has slept with girl after girl after girl.  Anyone who looked normal would be considered some kind of sexual deviot but since this is Josh Hartnett, a can’t do a thing wrong in front of his legion of female teenage fans, we feel sorry for him.

Matt’s brother, John (Trese), happens to be a priest and on the verge of lent, he indirectly gives him an idea to solve his sexual problems.  No sex of any kind for 40 days and 40 nights.  And that’s not all.  No kissing, touching, biting, no fooling around, and no masturbation of any kind.

The journey begins and early on, he meets the alluring Erica (Sossamon) at the local laundromat.  They develop an instant connection and even spend a day together but Matt finds himself having to withdraw from what would have been a very intimate kiss and Erica is left confused.  At the computer company where Matt works, his colleagues have created and marketed a web-site where people from all over the world can bet on what day he will crack and the pot is now in excess of $15,000.

40 Days & 40 Nights spirals downhill at a monumental pace.  Hartnett was solid in his dramatic leading role in Black Hawk Down but this comedic performance highlights his limitations.  It’s such a stupid character and he looks like a drug addict during the final 10 days as he struggles to keep his hand off it.  The effects of his quest for denial seem to be just a little exaggerated.  The rest of the screenplay follows like clockwork and everything happens as you would expect.

The film has been made by Working Title Films.  I love their films as they have an intelligently comedic class and don’t usually lower themselves to toilet-like humour.  Previous Working Title comedy credits include The Big Lebowski, Billy Elliot, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Fargo, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill.  As additional evidence that this film doesn’t match the quality of the above mentioned productions, 40 Days & 40 Nights has struggled at the box-office with a lukewarm $37m after being belted by We Were Soldiers during its opening weekend.

I usually find it difficult to harness the energy to write something decent for such an ordinary film so there you have it.  It’s the best your going to get.  Lent may have already passed but that still doesn’t mean you can abstain from seeing 40 Days & 40 Nights.