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40 Days And 40 Nights


After breaking up with the love of his life, Nicole (Vinessa Shaw), Matt (Josh Hartnett) turns to the loveless existence of one night stands to try to forget about her. The problem is bedding attractive strangers isn't working for Matt, who just can't get any satisfaction out of empty sex, literally: every time he does the deed, he has visions of the ceiling opening up to a big black hole. To make matters worst, Matt learns from the office bagel guy that Nicole recently got engaged to a new beau. Desperate and confused, Matt turns to his brother--a priest--for help and decides that for Lent, he will give up sex and anything remotely related to it, including self-gratification, for 40 days and 40 nights. But when word gets out about his newfound chastity, coworkers at the Internet company where he works start a betting pool on what day Matt will eventually slip up--for $50 a pop. Things get complicated when Matt meets a new love interest Erica (Shannyn Sossamon) who isn't too sympathetic to his self-imposed plight.


Hartnett (Pearl Harbor) is perfect for the role of Matt, a cute but unconventional character who escapes out of bathroom windows when the going gets tough. Although critics often pick on Hartnett for his limited range, it actually serves him well here: While his character is smart, he is also shy and slightly reserved, well suiting the actor's real-life persona. His new love interest Erica is played by Sossamon (A Knight's Tale), who is undoubtedly better suited to play the apple of Matt's eye then is the vixenish Shaw (Corky Romano). Playful and sweet, Sossamon's character melded well with Hartnett's and the two had obvious chemistry. But was it just me, or does Sossamon look an awful lot like former Cosby babe Lisa Bonet? The two will have you rooting for them. As likable an on-screen couple as they are, it's the supporting cast that will crack you up, especially Paulo Costanzo (Josie and the Pussycats), who plays Matt's roommate Ryan.


Thanks to some clever writing by Rob Perez, 40 Days and 40 Nights turns what could have been a typical teen sex romp movie into a really funny and original story, further enhanced by director Michael Lehmann's (My Giant) creative vision. For example, when Matt suffers sexual withdrawal symptoms and starts to hallucinate, he flies over sand dunes that resemble giant breasts. While the dialogue in the film is refreshingly down-to-earth and most of the actors have chemistry, there are some flaws that eventually get in the way, like Nicole. Not only was her character completely underdeveloped, but she was so bitchy and superficial you have to wonder what a sweet guy like Matt saw in her, or why he couldn't get over her afterwards. Plus, you would think he'd have an easy time moving on considering he works in an office where all the women look like they're fresh off the set of Britney Spears' ''Baby One More Time'' video, complete with short plaid skirts and knee-high socks. I also found the ending disappointing, and without spoiling it will say it involves a scene with handcuffs that will leave you thinking, like that would ever happen.

Bottom Line

While 40 Days and 40 Nights won't have you in stitches for the entire length of the film, it has some really good laughs and situations that everyone who has ever been in a relationship will be able to relate to.