40 Days and 40 Nights

Starring:
  • Oh my Ga, he is SO HOT!
  • The Chick from "A Knight's Tale (Who Really is Hot.)
  • (Mr.) Griffin (Dunne)

 

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Directed by the Hudson Hawk. "It's true. Ben's 'you know what' is only  four inches long. Oh! How do I know? Um...Bruckheimer told me. Yeah, that's it."
Josh Sacrifices Himself Once Again for the Sake of the Great Money Shot Joke.
 I get the feeling that the script for 40 Days and 40 Nights at one point was a really funny and insightful look on the modern relationship between sex and religion. But then, American Pie came out, was really popular,and they decided that there was no room in the marketplace for a movie that talked about sex in an intelligent way which didn't have any come or boner jokes. Its too bad because it the audience's loss. There's some really good material here and it's the first time where the filmgoing audience has got to see Josh Hartnett as a leading man. And he doesn't screw it up. He even has some really good chemistry with his love interest played by Shannon Sossoman, the really gorgeous chick from A Knight's Tale. But the jokes about Viagra and old people having sex? Mmm...that stuff isn't really good at all.

Hartnett plays Matt Sullivan, a hot guy who lives in the trendy city of San Francisco and has a really trendy job with a dotcom. (That smacks of some stale material.) He has also just been dumped by his really hot girlfriend Nicole. This has caused him a great deal of anxiety. Every time he is confronted with sex, the walls of the room start to crack and reveal a dark black hole that looks as though it will suck up his manhood. This is actually pretty funny and director Michael Lehmann (Heathers, The Truth about Cats and Dogs) puts a really light yet engaging touch to these delusions. In an attempt to extract some advice about his sexual troubles, Matt consults with his brother who is in seminary school. These two banter back and forth and reach some interesting nuggets of dialogue that feel like they were written by Kevin Smith. It is from these conversations that Matt decides to give up all forms of sex (Intercourse, intimate touching, and masturbation) for lent. He takes up the vow in church and gives the statue of Jesus on the cross a big thumbs up as he's walking out. You may call it sacrilege,but Jesus was just a dude. Why not give him a thumbs up?

Already we're twenty minutes into the film and I'm totally digging this movie. But then, once we get the setup, the film takes a virtual nose dive for the rest of it duration. Now, at this point, most critics are going to go into this little rant: Oh yeah, it must be really really hard for someone who looks like Josh Hartnett NOT to have sex for forty days. Only someone HOT like that would have HOT people throw themselves into the path of their pants. Well, until Hollywood starts employing only ugly people in film, then I'll decide to go ahead and take a leap of faith with the film. No, my beef with this film is that we get this monotone, flat comic pattern where Matt's hot female coworkers and his fat, schlubby male friends try to get him to get off anyway they can. It's all pretty embarrassing, but the one that puts a dagger into my heart is when Griffin Dunne (Yes, our guy who is the director of Lisa Picard is Famous!), as Matt's boss, accidental drinks some Viagra-spiked orange juice meant for Matt and then spends the rest of his screen time beating off in the men's room. Ha-ha. In between all of this, Matt has met Erica (Sossoman) at a Laundromat. These two actually have a really good spark yet the film chooses to focus more on the boner jokes. Of course, when the two are on screen, they are forced to go through all the stupid hoops that the romantic comedy script has set up since the introduction of the moving picture. (Or, as Ebert would say, things like the Great Misunderstanding, the False Hope-Real Hope and False Dawn-Real Dawn.) The message of the film seems to be that there's more to relationships than sex (????) which is really good and really healthy. But then that's sold out at the end for the sake of more cheap sex jokes.

But even during the most trite and painful crap, I could still see where this film could have went and what it would have said. In the climax, Matt chains himself to his bed and comments that he must look like Christ on the cross in that position. Geez, this is the second time Josh has been crucified in the past year alone. This movie seemed to have more on its mind and I imagine the original script made more analogies to Matt with Jesus fasting and resisting temptation in the desert. Erica could have been played more like Mary Magnalene and it seems that Lehmann knew this because they have a lot of their best scenes have this "we're pure but impure" feel to them. There's a lot the director does with that Laundromat where they meet. He even throws the camera into a washing machine and watches the two as they get "soaked" in the purifying suds. I mean, Matt's roommate even lets out his secret in an act of betrayal. He's just like Judas! It almost makes me kind of mad that these components were left in because the material just gets marooned as though it's looking for a better film. But what do I know? I live in a college town and the entire sorority population was in the audience and soaked it up like they were drinking Jolly Rancher flavored-Zimas. Maybe I saw what they didn't see. Maybe I saw the great religious/sexual debate that 40 Days and 40 Nights could have been. Or maybe I have totally fell off the deep end. I'm not really sure. Perhaps I should give up sex comedies for lent. That's some self-denial that might do me some good.

 

The Pitch:
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1 Abercrombie and Fitch
Plus
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1 American Pie
Equals
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2 40 Days and 40 Nights
See It For:
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Josh realizing Where He Had Left His Car Keys.