Working from Rob Perez's sharp script, director Michael Lehmann tries hard in 40
DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS to create a WHEN HARRY MET SALLY... tale with a THERE'S
SOMETHING ABOUT MARY ambiance. He probably would have succeeded if it hadn't
been for the casting of the leads, Josh Hartnett (PEARL HARBOR) and Shannyn
Sossamon (A KNIGHT'S TALE), two beautiful but bland actors. The movie's jokes
work in spite of them, not because of them.
The cute plot concerns a guy, Matt Sullivan (Hartnett), having so much trouble
getting over his ex-girlfriend, Nicole (Vinessa Shaw), that he decides to give
up sexual activity of any kind for Lent. Of course, the women at his company
try to attack him at every water cooler in order to break his vow. One even
spreads her legs on the company's photocopy machine in front of him and writes
her phone number on the copy of her panties. Meanwhile, the men in his office
spend their time running a betting pool on the Internet that attracts gamblers
from as far away as Bangladesh. About the only thing his co-workers don't try
is putting an apple pie on his desk. (One assumes that the office must be in a
special sexual-harassment-lawsuit-free zone of San Francisco.)
Thanks to the loan of a fabric softener sheet at a local coin laundry, Matt
meets Erica (Sossamon). Initially Erica, who wears nerdy, boyish clothes, seems
like the perfect platonic playmate. Matt's first indication that his celibacy
with her may prove difficult comes when he asks her occupation. She's a
cybernanny who spends her entire day surfing porno sites in order to figure out
which ones should be labeled as off-limits to kids.
As Matt comes down the home stretch, he starts to shake like a heroin junkie
going cold turkey. As the big day gets closer, it's not clear whether he'll
make it or not. The movie itself almost makes it. There are some funny
moments, but Hartnett and Sossamon are no Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, not even
close. Looks are not enough.
40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS runs 1:33. It is rated R for "strong sexual content,
nudity and language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes