Reviewed by Greg King
Director: Michael Lehmann
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Vinessa Shaw, Paulo Costanzo, Adam Trese, Shannon Sossamon
The recent succession of teen comedies have become increasingly moronic and desperate in their quest to find the ultimate gross out sequence. The latest installment in the dumb teen comedy genre though is one of the lamest and least funny yet!
Matt (Josh Hartnett) is a twenty something web page designer for a small San Francisco dotcom firm who has just been dumped by long time girl friend Nicole (Vinessa Shaw). Tired of a succession of meaningless one-night stands and frustrated by his inability to understand what women want from a relationship, Matt decides to abstain from sex for Lent. He finds little support or understanding from his over sexed parents, his brother (Adam Trese), a priest wrestling with his own issues, nor his womanising flatmate Ryan (Paulo Costanzo, from Road Trip, etc). His colleagues at work post news of Matt’s vow on the Internet and begin taking bets on how long he will last.
But soon after making his vow, Matt meets the beautiful and sensitive Erica (Shannyn Sossamon, from A Knight’s Tale) and falls in love. His vow of abstinence comes between the two as Matt wrestles with his conscience.
Written with little spark by first time writer Robert Perez, 40 Days And 40 Nights is a romantic comedy that tries to explore if a relationship can exist without the added complication of sex. What should have been a brisk and broad comedy instead becomes a laboured and unfunny exercise that outstays its welcome. This woeful and turgidly paced comedy is actually rather short – it only seems to run for 40 days and 40 nights!
The film has been woodenly directed by Michael Lehmann, whose uneven resume includes the terrific black teen comedy Heathers, the intriguing Cyrano inspired romantic comedy The Truth About Cats And Dogs, and the dire Hudson Hawk, widely acknowledged as one of the biggest box office duds of all time. Try as he might, Lehmann is unable to bring much life to this tepid material. There is little chemistry between the two leads, which also detracts from the central romance.
Taking a break from his recent war film period, Hartnett is woefully miscast here, and despite his earnest performance he seems uncomfortable and embarrassed by the demands of the occasionally puerile script.