40 Days and 40 Nights

For those expecting a religious film about Lent and other things holy, might be disappointed with 40 Days and 40 Nights. Instead what we get is a sex-comedy that differs from the normal teen sex comedy as instead of trying to get laid, the main antagonist is trying not to get some action. What a hard life.

Josh Hartnett is Matt Sullivan, a young hip graphics designer who has just broken up with his girlfriend Nicole (Vinessa Shaw) and spends the next six months trying to forget her by shagging as many women as possible – as you do. The whole break up is driving him crazy and he just cannot seem to get her out of his mind.

Matt decides to confide and request help from his brother, John (Adam Trese) who is an aspiring priest. John suggests that perhaps Matt should abstain from any form of sexual gratification, even kissing, and then this would help him get over his urge to sleep with women in an attempt to replace Nicole.

So with a plan in mind, Matt removes all sexual items (Porn mags/videos etc) from his apartment and replaces them with model making kits in an attempt to keep his self inflicted abstinence. His flat mate (Paul Costanzo) discovers that Matt is abstaining and starts to run an every expanding gambling book on whether or not Matt can complete the full 40 days.

Matt, who’s more determined than ever to complete his Lent, is doing well – until he meets Erica (Shannyn Sossamon). Matt is convinced that Erica is the one for him and unfortunately he cannot bring himself to confess his ‘challenge’ to her (he is unaware of the feverish betting going on around him). With Erica more than interested in him and the fact that his abstinence is driving him crazy, temptation seems a lot easier than completing the whole 40 days.

The hook of 40 Days and 40 Nights is whether or not Matt can last the 40 days and nights without so much as a kiss or self gratification. It takes an interesting comedy idea but then almost ruins it by trying to be a romantic comedy too. The two are just a little too separated to merge completely.

The majority of the laughs come from Matt’s friends who try to either break his temptation on the day that they have bet on or to try and stop someone else trying to make him cave in on their day. Tricks range from tempting Matt with offers of threesomes with gorgeous girls to others sneaking Viagra into his morning drink. These guerrilla tactics make up for a large portion of the laughs and keep things flowing along at a fair old pace.

Performances are ok, with Josh Hartnett doing a good job of showing his angst and torment over the 40 days. Shannyn Sossamon is okay as the real girl of his dreams but much like her role in A Knights Tale, it’s a role that doesn’t require much beyond looking good. Speaking of which every single person in this film is good looking – there is not a single unattractive girl in the whole film and every one of them seems to be an ‘easy’ lay (only wish I was living in that world!!). As a result every woman is seen as a sex object and this is where the film falls. Towards the end when the film shifts pace and tries to become a romantic comedy, the audience is expected to take the image of women seriously, which is contrary to the last hour or so, and it just doesn’t work well.

Paulo Costanzo as Matt’s housemate is very funny, especially when doing his checks on Matt – such as bursting into his room with a ultra-violet to scan his sheets to try and see if any fluids have been ‘relieved’.

On the whole 40 Days and 40 Nights does have a few laughs and does work well on some levels. The cast is funny and fresh as is the plot – not brilliant but just entertaining enough to keep the audience guessing whether or not Matt manages his 40 days and 40 nights.

Score 6/10