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40 Days and 40 Nights

Starring Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon and Griffin Dunne
Screenplay by Robert Perez
Directed by Michael Lehman

IN SHORT: A fluffy mix of raunch and romance. A darn good time. [Rated R. 92 minutes]

Year after year, we sit through GenX-targeted flicks all of which have, at their core, the focussed, driving determination that is the need to get "it." Now that we're more than a year into the new millennium, perhaps it is appropriate that we finally get a flick whose driving determination is the need to avoid getting anything resembling "it" at all. Even more surprising, and more to the point, it is a movie which falls into that realm between films marketed to twentysomethings as raunchy comedies and one which can rightfully take a place among "romances" of the more adult mode . . . except for the language and built in raunch . . . but we're big boys here, we can take it. We enjoyed 40 Days and 40 Nights a whole bunch. It falls dead on into "great date flick" category for us and, as long as you don't mind language and so on, that reco works up the line a decade or two from the demographic target. It's nothing that will go down as cinematologically important but it's a fun sit. And it gives me the ability to write otherwise insensitive and totally un-PC lines like . . .

There are four heterosexual men in the San Francisco of 40 Days and 40 Nights. One is married. One is a priest. The remaining pair are fair game for a city stocked with Playmate quality femmes. We knew we lived on the wrong coast...

Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) is the lucky man who would have his pick of SanFran's finest if he weren't morosely missing his ex, the ultrafine Nicole (Vinessa Shaw). His roommate, Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) does his best to keep the moody one occupied but the latter would prefer to stay at home and build model cars. Or do laundry on a Friday night, which is the only option he allows himself after swearing off sex for Lent -- anything imaginable all the way down to touching, with or without a partner -- therefore Matt is doomed to meet the most perfect, personable, sexy and sweet woman of his dreams at the laundry on Day One of the Vow. Her name is Erica Sutton (Shannyn Sossamon) and she works at the one remaining profitable dot com company in the country, hunting out and blocking porn sites all day long. She is instantly attracted. He is literally dumbfounded and, even when he finally manages to loosen his tongue during their first date, doesn't tell her about his sacred Vow.

If 40 Days and 40 Nights had gone for total raunch, the remaining hour or so would be filled with scenes of Erica in and out of lingerie, but this script goes for humor instead and pushes double entendre to the visual and aural limit. All in all, it pretty much hits the target. An occasional subtitle will tell you where in time the story sits, as Ryan and the rest of Matt's co-workers at "" are running a 'Net based betting pool. By the time we get close to the end of the vow, there's over $18,000 in the pool and every femme employee of the company has thrown their Playmate perfect bodies at the poor man. The biggest problem is that betting pool, which Matt knows nothing about, is sponsored by a porn site. The fledgling romance hits the rocks, fast.

There's a lovely bit about Matt's boss (Griffin Dunne) taking the vow for reasons of his own and running commentary by supporting characters in the office, Matt's brother the would be priest (Adam Trese) and Erica's roommate, Sam (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As the Vow reaches its most unbearable stage, knowing that she wants nothing to do with him, Matt brings Erica flowers. What follows is an incredibly sexy scene and will have florists all across the land jumping for joy.

That timeline/ countdown is an under used commodity in Robert Perez' script. There's also a point, about 23 days in by our estimate, where something happens in the story, involving mom and dad, that would be enough to make anyone we know swear off any kind of sex for at least a week or two. That it only makes Matt crazier and hornier is, for us, the biggest stumbling block in the fluff. It's a minor point, as is the fact that no one tells the poor boy about a thing called the " cold shower". He almost gets it right at the end but, no. 40 Days and 40 Nights moves from raunch to romance and kept us laughing all the way.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 40 Days and 40 Nights, he would have paid . . .


40 Days and 40 Nights is a passable but average to bad dateflick so, take a date. As long as you're not concerned with double entendre or language explicitly detailing the nether regions -- more talk about genitals and fruit, to paraphrase the Talking Heads -- one of your pair will have a good time.

And if you want to emulate Matt, don't do it the way we did . . . getting hit by a truck was no damned fun.

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