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By Herb Kane | March 22, 2002

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: David Grove (, James Berardinelli (, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie (, Stephen Hunter (, Mark Dujsik (Mark Reviews Movies), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Sean P. Means ( ^ * * 1/2 (out of 5 stars)
I watched 40 Days and 40 Nights and it felt like my brain was rope in a tug-of-war competition between an Angel and a demon. The Angel won, but in the end – there was no prize.
40 Days and 40 Nights is about a sex-crazed web site designer named Matt (Josh Hartnett) who decides to abstain from sex during Lent. Then he meets Erica (Shannyn Sossamon) at the laundromat, an irresistible girl seeking love. They hit it off and now she wants to “get it on.” Matt still abstains, but his friends don’t think he can do it. This leads to some pretty lame comedy.
David Grove ( said, “This film would’ve been a lot funnier if the filmmaker’s had shown the slightest bit of imagination in terms of the plot’s comic possibilities.”
Grove’s review gives some good examples. This film comes up with stupid scenes such as Matt walking into a business meeting with an erection at a full ninety-degree attention. Give me a break! Men are very aware of themselves in situations like this. Lame!
James Berardinelli ( said, “The level of comedy, which varies from crude to insulting, reminds me of the dirty jokes that fifth graders snicker about in bathrooms.” There are some laughs, but not worth mentioning here. If “40 Days” had any hope, it was the romantic connection between Matt and Erica.
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie ( said, “We’re supposed to find Erica adorable. But Sossamon is as dauntingly charmless as she was in ‘A Knight’s Tale.'”
Eleanor, if you were a man I’d slap you! Sossamon was absolutely adorable. I think she has a very natural and down-to-earth quality about her and her beauty really shines through. James Berardinelli ( got it right; “She’s a natural in this role, catching the camera’s lens and the viewer’s eye. Hartnett and Sossamon work well together.”
They picked the right actress to make us believe why Matt would have a problem abstaining from sex. Josh’s acting was convincing, too.
Stephen Hunter ( said, “He shows you Matt’s confusion and how fed up he is with the one-night Jiffy Lube lifestyle. You can feel him yearning for something else and feel his frustration at his inability to clarify it, much less articulate it.”
Hartnett and Sossamon can certainly act, but the story leads their relationship nowhere. Here the film completely fails because the romantic element has no heart. It’s still all about one thing. Sex.
Mark Dujsik (Mark Reviews Movies) nailed it: “It would seem that a relationship without sex would be focused on something else, but it’s not. Despite whatever the characters say or do (or don’t do), their relationship still hinges on sex–it’s simply the lack of sex, which is technically the same thing. What do they talk about? Sex.”
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) said, “The ending, alas, goes astray, for reasons I cannot reveal, except to suggest that Nicole’s entire participation is offensive and unnecessary, and that there was a sweeter and funnier way to resolve everything.”
This is one movie that NEEDED a good, sweet ending. Instead it just stops and leaves us unsatisfied. We end up with a mediocre comedy with crude, lame humor.
Sean P. Means ( summed the movie up best: “Director Michæl Lehmann cannot decide whether he is making a lewd and manic farce or a lovey-dovey romance. In splitting the difference, he delivers a sex-filled romantic comedy that is neither sexy, romantic nor comedic.”
If you are going to abstain from anything, abstain from watching this movie – at least until it reaches the video store. ^-CRITIC DOCTOR
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