[box cover]

40 Days and 40 Nights

Its high-concept hook may be scoff-worthy (sorry, but there are plenty of people, even guys, who go without sex for a month at a time and cope with it quite sanely), and its bagels-and-Sobe-infused dot.com setting may already be laughably dated, but 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002) still manages to charm. A large part of the film's appeal stems from watching Pearl Harbor pin-up Josh Hartnett shed his usual grave demeanor in favor of bawdy comedy and an earnest grin. As Matt, a studly Web flunky who vows to give up all forms of sex (partnered and solo) for Lent after a series of post-breakup flings leaves him feeling panicked and empty, Hartnett proves he's got a few funny bones in his body — or at least the ability to play ridiculous situations so convincingly straight that you can't help but snicker. And when 40 Days is mining those situations for laughs — from Matt faking an orgasm, to a comely co-worker (Monet Mazur) photocopying her rear end in an attempt to seduce him off the wagon — it works. It's when sassy dreamgirl Erica (A Knight's Tale's Shannyn Sossamon) enters the picture that the movie stumbles a bit. Aside from a rather unconventional first date on a San Francisco bus, Matt and Erica's relationship is almost as predictable as an episode of "Three's Company," from her frustration over the fact that he won't kiss her to the contrived climax (no pun intended) that threatens to keep them apart. (And their "erotic" hands-off love scene is just too cheesy for words.) Matt's sarcastic roommate (a perfectly cast Paulo Costanzo) and his geeky co-workers — who set up an online pool to take bets on how long he'll last — are much more amusing. One thing 40 Days actually does make the most of is its San Francisco locations. Although the crew only shot in the City by the Bay for five days (filming the rest of the movie in Vancouver), 40 Days definitely has the SF feel down pat — and not just because half the characters have creative facial hair and carry messenger bags. Director Michael Lehmann discusses location issues (and a lot of other germane-but-not-terribly exciting things) in the commentary track he, producer Michael London, and screenwriter Rob Perez recorded for Miramax's 40 Days and 40 Nights DVD. The trio could use a Red Bull or two to pump up the energy level, but they dish a little dirt (turns out Mazur broke the copy machine glass the first time she sat on it). The only other extras on the disc are the theatrical trailer and sneak peeks at other Miramax movies. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is strong, and the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is crisp and clear (other options include a French 2.0 Surround language track and English and Spanish subtitles). Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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