Directed by Michael Lehmann, starring Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Vinessa Shaw, Monet Mazur, Griffin Dunne, Paulo Costanzo and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Much like Ireland's Colin Farrell, American Josh Hartnett's rise up the Hollywood ranks has been massively impressive. Roles in teen movies 'The Faculty' and 'The Virgin Suicides' led to substantial parts in 2001's biggest big-budget turkey, 'Pearl Harbor', and Ridley Scott's jingoistic military drama, 'Black Hawk Down'. But unlike Farrell, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find a shred of evidence that Hartnett is actually any good.
Here, he plays Matt Sullivan, a young, single man whose physical appearance is the embodiment of the stereotypical female fantasy – tall, dark and handsome. In a quest to banish the bitter taste of a failed romance, Sullivan spends his time hopping from bed to bed on a sexual spree that's high on action, low on feeling. Insane as it may sound, he fails to realise his fortune in being able to sustain such a blessed existence and foolishly decides to pursue the famine as opposed to the feast – he decides to give up sex for Lent.
For most men, it's a sacrifice which could be adhered to without even trying. But not for this superstud, and to prove he means business (or lack of), mad Matt extends the ban to include sexual activities of any depth or description. So in the space of one ludicrous decision, he goes from Michael Douglas to Morrissey. Initially, it's not a problem, and Sullivan convinces himself that he's empowered by the decision. That is, of course, until he meets the woman of his dreams.
What follows in '40 Days And 40 Nights' is as puerile as it is prurient. As his love and lust grow in tandem for new girl Erica (Sossamon), Matt stumbles through the rest of the film in trousers that looks three sizes too small and a demeanour that suggests he's suffering from some sort of tropical disease. Things aren't helped by his workmates – a bunch of lecherous guys and treacherous gals – who establish a betting pool on how long he can suffer the celibate lifestyle.
In the hands of Bobby & Peter Farrelly, this could have been bad, dirty fun. In the hands of Michael Lehmann, who's fallen a considerable way from grace since his 1989 effort 'Heathers', it's rude (we don't mind), crass (again, that's fine) and without a modicum of charm to brush over the fact that it's so very rarely funny (Houston, we've got an incurable flaw). It's pretty sad when the funniest joke of the show is the title of a porno film – 'In Diana Jones'. And if that doesn't register a smirk, those of a more sensitive nature should certainly not engage with this, because any engagement will be more of the groin than of the grey matter.
Hartnett is essentially a plank, but fortunately for him, he's a good-looking plank. Unfortunately for us, he lacks any adequate degree of charisma or comedic gravitas. Then again, even Colin Farrell wouldn't have rescued this.