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Case Number 02251

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40 Days And 40 Nights

Miramax // 2002 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // September 30th, 2002

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our review of 40 Days and 40 Nights (Blu-ray), published September 12th, 2011, is also available.

The Charge

He's about to do the unthinkable. No sex, whatsoever, for 40 days and 40 nights.

Opening Statement

"Dude!"—Matt, speaking to a crucifix.

This movie really annoys me. I'm usually a sucker for (yet another) teen comedy, but the premise behind this one just irks me. Granted, men are animals and we are always thinking about sex, but to make a movie with the premise that it's impossible for a guy to easily abstain for forty days and nights is ridiculous. According to the tagline, it's "unthinkable." Heaven forbid!

Not all men are himbos. Granted, again, we often do think from the wrong side of the belt, but just because you're young, dumb, and hung doesn't mean you can't keep it in your pants for a couple of days. This movie treats the concept of going without like it's the ultimate peril in the world. It's unthinkable! How ever will the poor boy survive? How long before he goes crazy and begins to see all the women around him naked? How long before he breaks down and spanks the monkey?

Keep this disdain in mind as you continue forward. And, just for the record, when I was that age, neither I (alas) nor anyone I knew was getting any at the rate purported by the sluts in this movie.

Facts of the Case

Matt (Josh Hartnett, Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down) is madly in love with Nicole. He thinks about her every day and fawns over cherished videos and pictures of the wonderful times they spent together. The only problem in this scenario is that Nicole dumped the big Matt-a-rooni six months ago for being a submissive, obsessive dillhole. Poor, poor Matt; he just can't seem to shake his feelings for her. To that end, "he's action-packed with issues," foremost being a hallucination of a "black hole" developing in the ceiling of the room in which he's banging a girl—which, as the film alleges, would seem to be almost everyday.

No matter what he's tried, he can't shake that delusion, and it's absolutely ruining his young and ample sex life. How will he be able to continue to revive the free lovin' '60s when his brain is actually thinking during sex? Deep down he knows it all stems from his lingering fixation with Nicole. Matty, being raised a "good" (vaguest usage of the word implied) Catholic boy turns to a local priest to work things out. It doesn't hurt that the priest is actually his brother who's in his last year of seminary training. His brother has his owns issues with celibacy and isn't able to help give little Matt the easy answer he's looking for.

Fortunately, as he's leaving his latest confession session, Matt stumbles upon (not literally, though he'll do that a few times for real later in the flick) the Pastor informing him that Lent is about to begin. For some odd reason, Matt believes that giving up sex in all forms for this religious observance will do him good. With glee, hope, and reckless abandon, Matteo swears not to have any carnal fun until Easter.

Of course, Matt's friends and coworkers get wind of this vow and immediately begin a complex gambling pool on when Matt will give in to his maddening desires. Will he do it with a comely young lady or will he invite Rosie and her five friends over for a little party? The possibilities and potential for fun are endless.

Matt's vow actually seems to be doing him some good, until he meets Erica (Shannyn Sossaman, A Knight's Tale). Much to his dismay, he and Erica begin to hit it off, but he believes he must fulfill his vow. As this is a teen comedy, all things must go down the crapper and everything goes wrong for our virile leading man. Will he get over Nicole? What role if any will Nicole play in the vow? Will Matt be able to make it forty days and nights? Will he and Erica end up as a happy couple? Who will win the gambling pool? And, most importantly, how far will his female coworkers go to tempt him into breaking the vow?

The Evidence

Presented in anamorphic widescreen, the video transfer of this 2002 film is pretty solid; unfortunately, there's just something a bit "off" with it. I'm not sure what it is, but it just doesn't come across as lush, vibrant, or sharp as one should expect for such a recent film. It's just missing a little something, a little oomph from the presentation. On the bright side, there are no transfer errors to be found, except for maybe a little bit too much grain, and the colors are accurate with solid blacks. For the audio transfer, we are treated to a nice 5.1 Dolby Digital presentation. The track makes very nice use of the center, fronts, and subwoofer but almost entirely ignores the surrounds. But, as to be expected, this film does not necessitate active use of the surrounds. Dialogue is crisp and clean with subtle use of directionals giving us a nice, overall ambience.

There are a couple of bonus features on the disc, with the primary one being an audio commentary with director Michael Lehmann, producer Michael London, and screenwriter Robert Perez. For the most part, I really did not enjoy their narration about the movie. This probably stems from my loathing of the story premise, so others may find the imparted information more enjoyable. They do discuss a wide variety of related topics about the movie—changed dialogue, story and scene development, characters, et cetera—but they also do go into the occasional long span of silence, which I find quite distracting. My hope was for them to actually discuss, and maybe debate, the notion of abstinence, but that did not occur. In addition to the commentary, you get the teaser trailer for this film (with Joshy in his Black Hawk Down haircut), and a bevy of other full trailers: Blow Dry, The Faculty, Next Stop Wonderful, Bounce, About Adam, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Gangs of New York.

I wasn't overly impressed with the direction of the movie. Michael Lehmann (Hudson Hawk, Airheads, The Truth About Cats and Dogs) does an adequate job, but he doesn't bring anything fresh or original to the table. In fact, it's obvious he utilized many other styles and shots from other directors, and affectionately refers to these as homages during the commentary. There's some very nice location shooting in San Francisco, which is taken down a notch with some very bad bluescreen work during the bus sequence.

"Hey, bagel guy!"
"You know my name?"

The characters in this film are barely developed beyond their one-line description in the script:
• Lead Male: Young, hot, obsessive, sexually frustrated guy.
• Lead Female: Young, attractive, semi-Bohemian, free thinking, fun girl.
• Ex-Girlfriend: Sexy, bitchy, demanding girl.
• Roommate: Freaky pervert.
• Friends: Goofy perverts.
• Female Coworkers: Hot babes.
• Male Coworkers: Dot com guys.
• Male Boss: Horny/sexually frustrated, goofy, friendly older guy.

But, hey, this is a teen comedy, so we don't have to do much to keep things moving along. We've got our paper-thin plot and serviceable supporting cast, so we'll make a ton off this movie! Forgive my bitterness; I'm still stuck on the idea for this movie. I'm not sure why it nags at me, but if I ever do figure it out, I'll let you know, Faithful Reader (I've always liked how Stephen King did that). But going back a step, I do want to give a nod to a couple of the actors in the film. Now, while everyone does a respectable job with the weak material given to them, I think two guys took the material and really brought it to life. They are Matt's roommate, Ryan (Paulo Costanzo, Road Trip), and the Bagel Guy (Michael Maronna, he of the "Ameritrade" commercials). Both of their parts call for odd, quirky characters and it's obvious that both of them made the material come alive; and they actually improved it. During the commentary, Paulo is commended, but Michael gets dissed a bit for doing those commercials and "something funny with Bill Clinton for the press." I personally thought "President Clinton: Final Days" was hilarious—but that's something else altogether.

And, the best "subtle" indication that these guys really didn't have their finger on the pulse of society when they made film: everyone works for a "dot com" company. As we all know, most of them have gone bye-bye. Bad place to set your movie; it really dates it (and it came out in 2002!).

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Josh Hartnett is a dream! His beautiful eyes and lean, young body just make me melt! Oops, got sidetracked there for a second. This movie is hilarious! We all know how big pigs men all are, and this film finally shows us the truth about how much men think about sex and what they'll do to get it. It's fun to see a young guy try to give up sex for Lent, because it is a huge sacrifice for someone at his age. The way his friends tease and torment him, it's just priceless. And the scene with his parents where they start talking about the various positions they've done, I couldn't stop laughing! I was in tears! This one is a great teen comedy.

Closing Statement

I obviously did not like this film, so I do not recommend this film. You're aware that I have problems with the basis of the plot, so it tainted my whole experience. For a comedy, I'm not sure I laughed very much. Only two things that stands out in my mind as funny, aside from the roommate and Bagel Guy: (1) is the fact that Josh runs like a girl, and (2) is how the subtitles put in sound effects, *thud*. Stay away from this one. Please don't waste your time or money—unless your girlfriend likes Josh and it'll help you succeed in satiating your carnal desires.

The Verdict

Guilty! Everyone involved with this film is hereby sentenced to forty days and forty nights of watching truly inspired comedies, both teen oriented and otherwise. A small sample of quality movies to be included are: American Pie, Animal House, Austin Powers, and Porky's. In addition, for starring in two back-to-back duds, Josh Hartnett is sentenced to an additional forty days and forty nights of watching Pearl Harbor and 40 Days and 40 Nights.

Case adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 20
Acting: 85
Story: 60
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Miramax
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genre:
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary with Director Michael Lehmann, Producer Michael London, and Screenwriter Robert Perez
• Sneak Peaks / Trailers for: Blow Dry, The Faculty, Next Stop Wonderful, Bounce, About Adam, Bridget Jones's Diary, Gangs of New York
• Teaser Trailer for 40 Days and 40 Nights

Accomplices

• IMDb








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