The premise of 40 Days and 40 Nights is pretty simple. Having gone through a traumatic break-up Matt, played by Josh Hartnett, sleeps with every woman in sight, but to no avail. After counseling from his brother, a priest in training, he stumbles upon what he thinks will be his salvation. He vows to abstain from all forms of sex and foreplay for the 40 days of Lent.
The film is being promoted as a no sex comedy. Maybe they should have called it a no comedy comedy, since the joke is on the viewer. This is an entire film built on a wafer thin premise that features an already dated San Francisco scene, dubious plot twists, stilted dialogue and bad acting.
Granted, going 40 days without any sex, including self-gratification, would be tough but does anyone believe that youd actually start hallucinating? Or that virtually the entire Dot Com community of San Francisco, which of course has ceased to exist for a year and half now, would rabidly follow and bet vast sums of money on this challenge via the Internet? Dumb and dumber.
The director of this fiasco is Michael Lehmann, who once directed an intelligent and very funny and black comedy called Heathers. Sadly he also directed a film called Hudson Hawk which I guess is funny in its own, special way.
If theres any silver lining in this cloud its the picturesque views of the city by the bay. Featuring beautiful shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable car lined streets and exposed brick lofts; the film offers a loving travelogue of San Francisco. I found by focusing on the pretty pictures I could take my mind off the dreck coming out of the actors mouths.
The lead, Josh Hartnett is a pretty boy to be sure, but certainly capable of better than this. I didnt see his extravaganza, Pearl Harbor but he was great as the villainous Hugo in last years O. Relative newcomer Shannyn Sossamon, who was previously in A Knights Tale, plays his co-star Erica. Shes cute with a nice smile but doesnt offer much beyond that.
As for the rest of the cast I felt mostly embarrassment for them. Are things so bad for the talented Griffin Dunne that he must take the thankless role of a sexually frustrated boss who gets dosed with Viagra? Needless to say his extended masturbation sequence was not a career highlight.
In the end 40 Days and 40 Nights was actually much worse than the typical mindless teen sex comedy, since there was almost no sex and no comedy. I say bring on Freddie Prinze Junior. Im Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
© 2002 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 2/27/02
40 Days and 40 Nights
USA - 2002