No Joshing

40 Days and 40 nights directed by Michael Lehmann, written by Robert Perez, produced by Tim Bevan,.

40 Days and 40 nights directed by
Michael Lehmann, written by Robert
Perez, produced by Tim Bevan, Eric
Fellner and Michael London, with Josh
Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Vinessa
Shaw and Griffin Dunne. 96
minutes. An Alliance-Atlantis release.
Opens Friday (March 1). For venues and
times, see First-Run Movies, page 70.
Rating: N

Rating: N

movies like 40 days and 40 nights make women very nervous. Films about men and their sexual urges can be bad news. Take Blake Edwards’s opuses 10 and Skin Deep, or Doris Dörrie’s Me And Him (about a penis that starts talking to its owner) and you see the problem. They’re comedies because they have to be: nobody would sit through a drama about dicks. But what’s supposed to be funny is even thinking that a guy should rein in his little buddy. Of course, that’s an inside joke women in the audiences giggle nervously, not understanding what’s so funny about that.

40 Days And 40 Nights, directed by Michael Lehmann, stars Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor) as the recently dumped Matt, who decides he’ll give up all forms of sex for Lent, hoping that by purging himself of sexual thoughts he’ll get over his ex-girlfriend (Vinessa Shaw).

Naturally, the minute he gives up sex he meets the girl of his dreams, the kooky Erica (A Knight’s Tale’s Shannyn Sossamon), and his co-workers start a pool to see how long Matt will last before he caves to desire.

That means we get 90 minutes of Matt getting twitchier, sweatier and more turned on while women throw themselves at him.

What’s more reprehensible about all this is that Matt is painted as a sweet womanizer brought down by nasty, slutty women who all just happen to beautiful, thin and horny.

Writer Robert Perez, making his screenwriting debut, goes for low-brow, sexist laughs: Matt walking around the office with a hard-on, shocking a middle-aged female client Matt being tempted to masturbate by two female co-workers who start making out Matt fantasizing that the street is crowded with topless women.

If there were any laughs in the script, they’d certainly be doused by Hartnett, who’s as animated as a filing cabinet. He’s a pretty boy with a tamed unibrow and bad haircut who thinks acting nervous means shifting his weight from foot to foot and staring wide-eyed at everyone.

Sossamon, Angelina Jolie’s thinner and happier doppelgänger, gets more lines than she did in A Knight’s Tale. While she’s got a certain amount of charm, she’s still stuck playing the standard girl of his dreams part.

40 Days is the kind of movie that makes women cringe and think, “Men can’t really be this shallow.” But then we walk by a newsstand and see glossies like Maxim and FM or turn on the TV and watch Temptation Island or Blind Date, and it hits us. Yup, they sure can be piggies.

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