40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Sex Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 1, 2002 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - France, United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

"Blasphemous" doesn't begin to describe the marginally church-themed 40 Days and 40 Nights, though its crimes against Catholicism have little to do with that label. In fact, this soulless Josh Hartnett vehicle earns contempt by being so devoid of intellect, worthwhile commentary or even playfully bad taste, it actually validates the complaints of the most reactionary religious types. The crucial mission of this kind of film is to document the simultaneously shallow trappings and sublime pleasures of physical gratification, letting one inform the other to achieve both subtle and bawdy humor. Michael Lehmann's film never finds this admittedly delicate touch, but the small number of times it even comes close is what's truly dispiriting. Its default condition is to poop on all of its characters, even the ones it considers romantic heroes, while moving from one depressingly puerile set piece to the next in halting, anti-climactic fashion. Serving as a kind of Greek chorus for this bottom feeding is no less than a dozen snarky actors most frequently employed as television commercial pitchmen, whose grating attempts to hoard the spotlight should -- but don't -- cancel each other out. Rarely, also, has a movie so awkwardly crammed its setting into each shot; if Hartnett and Shannyn Sossamon need to get into an argument, odds are the Golden Gate Bridge will be looming somewhere in the background. Catholics may be offended that this film thinks so little of their hallowed tradition of self-denial, but how little it respects the good name of sex should shock just about everyone else.