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40 Days and 40 Nights Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 September 2002

40 Days and 40 Nights

Miramax Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: PG
starring: Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Griffin Dunne, Paulo Costanzo, Adam Trese, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Lorin Heath, Aaron Trainor, Glenn Fitzgerald, Monet Mazur, Christine Chatelain, Keegan Connor Tracy, Michael C. Maronna, Vinessa Shaw
release year: 2002
film rating: One Star
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Tara O'Shea

I'm going to give up Josh Harnett movies for Lent.

I'm serious. I'm not even a very good Catholic, and I suppose if I were, I'd actually be giving up something that means something to me. Making a sacrifice. Rather than contemplating -- with some glee, may I add -- sacrificing director Michael Lehmann and writer Rob Perez in a voodoo ritual to try and excise any memory of this wretched film.

Hartnett stars as Matt Sullivan, a young web designer hung up on his ex-girlfriend and so petrified of living without her that he hallucinates the sky opening up and swallowing him any time he's having sex with a girl. Which apparently would be every night of his young life. Living in a fantasy San Francisco filled with nothing but Victoria's Secret models in skimpy, tight clothing, Matt is tormented by his failure as a boyfriend and, in a moment of passion (supposedly of the spiritual kind), he decides that the path to happiness lies in giving up sex for Lent. No kissing, no fondling, no self-love -- he's going cold turkey. In the fashion of all wannabe romantic comedies, he then meets the perfect girl, a wacky free spirit named Erica (brought to something approximating life by "A Knight's Tale" waif Shannyn Sossamon). While his friends and co-workers run a high stakes pool, waiting for him to fail, Matt discovers true love without the sweaty parts.

Hartnett does his best, delivering an earnest and at times charming performance in a film that manages to be sacrilegious as well as mind-numbingly stupid and offensive. However, nothing can save this movie from its own premise. It is packed with gratuitous nudity, crudity, and cheap tawdry sex cliches, showcasing the worst side of guys, who are almost to a mab shown as shallow horndogs only out for a piece of tail. And this includes Matt's brother, the aspiring priest. The women are cartoonish two-dimensional fantasy figures with no depth. I openly admit that I spent two-thirds of the movie fantasying about tying Sossamon to a chair next to the craft services table and forcing her to eat a sandwich or 12. Griffin Dunne is wasted in a sad and pathetic supporting role as Matt's boss, who tries to take the same vow of celibacy, thinking it will lead to some kind of power trip with his wife.

While striving for light romantic comedy, the film drags on far longer than it should, and piles on the ridiculous until, by the climax (and I do mean climax), it is so far removed from reality (or good taste) that you'll be wondering what planet Lehmann was on when he decided to make it. Not this one, and I'm not sure I'd want to share it with him if it were.

Visually, the disc is decent, if nothing to write home about. The color palette isn't as saturated as it could be, but flesh tones and blacks remain good throughout. The print had almost no noticeable flaws, but some edge enhancement was visible, albeit it’s nothing that distracts too much from the picture. In terms of the sound mix, the songs are treated well, and dialogue is clear and easily understood throughout, but ambient sounds are strangely muted. The sound mix really does little to add texture to the film, and leaves little or no impression. Dialogue is pretty firmly centered, with the rears being largely neglected. Your subwoofer will not get any kind of workout with this one, but then, given the subject matter, that's hardly surprising.

In terms of extras, the disc includes a commentary track from Lehmann and Perez, which does its best to stay frothy and light, with little depth, not unlike the movie itself. Nothing in particular stands out in terms of what is covered. The animated menus are easy to navigate and subdued, and the disc includes the standard trailer and plugs for other Miramax and Buena Vista releases.

If you're a die-hard Hartnett fan, then this might be worth renting. Otherwise, I'd say do yourself a favor and skip it.

more details
sound format:
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
aspect ratio(s):
special features: Teaser Trailer; Feature Commentary With Director Michael Lehmann, producer Michael London and screenwriter Robert Perez; English Closed-Captioning
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Pioneer DV-C302D
receiver: Yamaha RXU870
main speakers: Boston Acoustics
center speaker: Boston Acoustics
rear speakers: Boston Acoustics
subwoofer: Velodyne
monitor: 32" Sony Trinitron

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