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40 Days & 40 Nights (2002)
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Review Date: February 23, 2002
Director: Michael Lehmann
Writer: Rob Perez
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Michael London
Actors:
Josh Hartnett
Shannyn Sossamon
Paulo Costanzo
Plot:
A dude distraught about his ex-girlfriend leaving him and now engaged to another man, decides to take the religious opportunity of Lent to give up all sexual relations, all sexual thoughts and anything else related, for a period of 40 days and 40 nights. It isn't long before the word spreads and all the boys are betting on whether or not he makes it and all the girls are trying to get him to break. Fun times.
Critique:
It's not every day that an original Hollywood movie comes down the turnpike, so you really have to sit up and applaud the filmmakers when they come up with something that doesn't include a numeric value at the end of its title, isn't just a "manufactured script" obviously written so that two name movie stars can do a movie together and make everyone a lot of money and doesn't have the same title as an old TV show that you used to love (I stress the words "used to"!). Anyway, the best thing that can be said about this movie is that it's definitely something that hasn't been recycled a zillion times before. It's fresh, it's got a unique perspective and well...let's face it, it's about a guy who can't jerk off or have sex for forty days...great concept! But with a solid premise like that, you have to worry about the film turning into a "one joke" wonder as well. In this case, the movie definitely does center around this one dude's dilemma for the majority of its runtime, but there is more coolness happening as well. Just like SWINGERS, the lead in this film is also trying to get over his ex-girlfriend, which is always a fun angle to tackle in any movie (me thinks that a certain majority of the audience could relate). The film also introduces the possibility of a new love, features many wise-cracking secondary characters who are betting on everything that is bettable and even tosses some T&A and erections into the mix. Now that's quite a movie!

But what's really going to keep a movie like this afloat is ultimately going to be the lead actor who has been given the unenviable task of being...eunuch-man! The guy in this case is Josh Hartnett and he does the job really well. He's sympathetic to the audience, he's funny, he's good-looking and sexy (huh??) and he's sure to be a character to whom both men and women could relate. The chemistry between him and the girl who tickles his fancy, Shannyn Sossamon, is also pretty decent, although I didn't necessarily buy the fact that they fell for each other so fast, but then again...maybe that's just my innate cynicism. I did really enjoy his roommate and his consistent humor, as well as all the sluttily dressed, oops, I mean...sexily clad women in his office (apparently all women working at Internet companies dress in Catholic school girl skirts?? Good stuff...I'm hiring next week!). The few poo-poo notes in the film include a bogus side-story with Hartnett's brother, who just happens to be a priest, a lame scene with his parents talking about sexual positions in front of their kids (c'man!!!) and the fact that they made the ex-girlfriend way too one-dimensional. On that last point, it really took away from the film's realism, since we are supposed to buy into Josh's obsession with this girl, but in the meantime, she's a complete bitch! I don't know...I don't get why they made her like that (although she, as well as most girls in this movie, was one foxy momma!).

And speaking of which, I also gotta send my props out to the filmmakers for not chickening out with the bluer stuff in this film (rated "R", baby!). We get nudity, we get hard-ons, we get discussions about masturbation, we get sex scenes, we get lots of goodies, including one of my personal favorites (which has to be seen to be believed), the ocean of tits! Thanks for not going "Disney" on us, Miramax! All in all, it's obvious that director Michael Lehmann wanted to have a good time with this film, with many quirky and fantasy sequences intertwined with reality, a fun soundtrack, and I for one, enjoyed it on that level. There's also some irony involved in this production for me, since my brother and I once wrote a script treatment about a guy who had to take a shit but couldn't find a bathroom or could never get around to actually doing it, until the very end of the film. We laughed at the many sequences that we could dream up until we ultimately realized that a movie like that would never work or be taken seriously. Well, here's a movie about a guy who spends the whole time avoiding all things sex and it works, so go figure. As for me, a man who is actually stuck in the exact same type of dilemma as our hero in this story...well, according to this movie, I gotta get rid of all my porn, I gotta stop pulling my goalie and I definitely gotta start doing my own laundry! In other words...my life of hell continues for now...
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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