Once upon a time in the early 2000s, the tall and lean heartthrob Josh Hartnett had a relatively promising film career. He made a splash in the late 90s with the popular horror films Halloween H20 andThe Faculty. He then continued into the 21st century with the military blockbusters Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down. He seemed to be destined for even more success but once he branched off into comedy, he kind of ran out of steam. One of the films that derailed him was 2002’s 40 Days and 40 Nights, a lackluster romantic comedy that proved that Hartnett has zero range as an actor. The film is now out on Blu-ray but seriously, why would you want to punish yourself by buying it?
Matt Sullivan (Josh Hartnett) is your typical young, good-looking nice guy. He works at a hip San Francisco-based dot-com company and lives with his coworker/buddy Ryan (Paulo Costanzo). Matt and his ex-girlfriend Nicole (Vinessa Shaw) broke up a number months ago and Matt still harbors strong feelings for her bordering on obsession. The love-sick man has frequent sexual encounters with random women to help ease his pain but to no avail. Matt then goes to his Catholic priest-in-training brother John (Adam Trese) for guidance. After meeting with John, Matt comes up with the idea of abstaining from all things sex (kissing, masturbation, etc.) for Lent, the duration of which is, get this, 40 days and 40 nights. The rest of the film focuses on Matt’s difficult struggle to resist physical temptations from most of the female population, one of which is Erica (Shannyn Sossamon), an attractive down-to-earth girl whom Matt meets and quickly cultivates a relationship with.
Josh Hartnett stars in this lame sex comedy, or should I say sexless comedy, and the results are pretty subpar. The lanky lead actor of this silly story seems as though he got lost on his way to an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot. Sure, he’s good looking but damn it, the man cannot act. He isn’t funny and he speaks with a boring monotone voice. Throughout the film, I found myself not caring at all about Matt’s ridiculous predicament. The plot is very predictable and many of the characters are over-the-top and cliched.
Having said that, I’m not going to ignore some the film’s highlights. These include Paulo Costanzo’s (Road Trip) spirited performance as Ryan, Matt’s sex-crazed roommate plus a Viagra-induced episode featuring Matt’s boss Jerry played by Griffin Dunne (An American Werewolf in London). The stunning Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight’s Tale) while absolutely beautiful really can’t act either. That is why she and Hartnett are perfect together as they show the world how amazingly attractive they are while at the same time, showing no emotional depth.
Released in the early 2000s when American Pie and Road Trip were all the rage and provided the standard formula for teen and tween sexcapades, 40 Days and 40 Nights attempted to capitalize on this then very popular trend. Acclaimed comedic director Michael Lehmann (Heathers, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Hudson Hawk) means well here but it appears that he, like Hartnett has also run out of steam. His talents seem to be reemerging however in various TV shows he’s directed such as Big Love, True Blood and Californication, to name a few.
These days, the sex comedy has been refined and polished into films like The Hangover and anything touched by Judd Apatow. Movies like 40 Days and 40 Nights don’t seem to have the same edgy dialogue and panache that make up Hollywood’s current line of gross-out raunchfests. If you have a crush on the soullessness that is Josh Hartnett and want to damage a few braincells for 95 minutes, then 40 Days and 40 Nights is right up your alley.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for 40 Days and 40 Nights are average at best. There is a feature-length audio commentary with director Michael Lehmann, producer Michael London and screenwriter Robert Perez as well as a teaser trailer for the film.