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40 Days and 40 Nights

movie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Paolo Costanzo, Chris Gauthier, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dylan Neal

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

This raunchy sex comedy about abstinence is targeted as a date movie for over-stimulated twentysomethings and, on that score, it succeeds. Hunky Josh Hartnett plays Matt Sullivan, an amiable San Francisco dot.commer who's been dumped by his bitchy girl-friend, Vinessa Shaw. Unable to get over it, he decides to take a vow of celibacy for Lent, declaring "No sex and nothing sex-like," to his brother (Adam Trese), a Catholic seminary student. Immediately, predictably, Matt meets saucy, seductive Shannyn Sossamon in a laundromat, and his troubles really begin. She's a censor of obscene websites - and his co-workers, both male and female, have been caustically charting his abstinence progress on a porn site called "The Vow," betting how long he'll last and inventing ways to tease and taunt his libido. As does his room-mate (Paul Costanzo) who uses a special light to scan Matt's sheets to see that "no fluids are liberated" in self-gratification. Yada, yada, yada. Seinfeld did it better on TV. First-time screenwriter Robert Perez and director Michael Lehmann ("Heathers") flack smutty scenes - from Matt's father's (Barry Newman) family dinner-table talk about sex positions after hip-replacement surgery to a Viagra-spiked drink, intended for Matt, that's inadvertently slipped to his sex-starved, married boss (Griffin Dunne). It's a carnal, contrived one-joke premise that sometimes gets surreal but eventually grows tiresome. While he scored in military uniform in "Pearl Harbor" and "Black Hawk Down," Josh Hartnett lacks the comedic timing and risqué flair to rival Hugh Grant in this kind of featherweight froth, relying, instead, on deadpan reactions. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "40 Days and 40 Nights" is a forced, flimsy 4. Call it a bawdy arousal comedy.

Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger

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