40 Days and 40 Nights (Blu-ray)
In the late 90’s and early 00’s, Hollywood let loose a string of “romantic comedies” about characters with few redeeming qualities, yet who are supposed to be sympathetic to audiences. These films are usually star vehicles for young talent and serve no purpose other than to keep the star(s) of the film top in mind. They usually have a reasonably interesting story but at their heart there is no substance. 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS is a film cut from this mold and sadly never exceeds its general premise, to keep stars Josh Hartnett (30 DAYS OF NIGHT, PEARL HARBOR) and Shannyn Sossamon (A KNIGHT’S TALE, THE ORDER) in the spotlight. In fact, I doubt it would have been made at all if it weren’t for PEARL HARBOR’s earlier release.
This is the story of Matt Sullivan (Hartnett), a young man who has just ended a serious relationship with Nicole (Vinessa Shaw) and cannot let her go. He has a string of one night stands with beautiful women who are apparently powerless to his raw sexual charms, all of which end with him having visions of his world breaking apart (during which he literally sees the ceiling cracking) and he runs away from them. [This is where I need to jump in… Admittedly I am a heterosexual man. But I just don’t get the big deal with Hartnett. He’s good looking, sure, but unless he’s a thousand times more sincere in person than he is on screen – why? WHY!?! Why does he get these roles? Okay, I’m done.]
As he is dealing with the loss of his relationship and moving through sexual encounters, he slowly realizes that there must be something more. His brother, a catholic priest in training, takes his confessions as he’s spiraling downward. Then Matt finds out that Nicole is engaged and he loses it. At his next confession (following additional sexual encounters) he runs into another priest who explains that he is giving up a candy for lent, and Matt has a revelation… He’s going to give up sex for lent, and then (somehow? magically?) everything will be better. The kinks in the story (meant to build our trust) include dealing with beautiful women who apparently just can’t stand the idea of a man like Matt not having sex for 40 days, a group of Matt’s “friends” who begin a betting pool for how long until he fails at his quest for celibacy, and Matt falling for an interesting woman (Sossamon) who has a quirky internet job.
Matt’s coworkers are a collection of faces you will recognize, though maybe not know by name. Paulo Costanzo is the one shining beacon in the film, even though he is playing essentially the same character from his breakout ROAD TRIP. Sossamon does what she can with a weak script, but there just isn’t a lot of substance for her character. Instead she appears alternately hot and cold.
The idea of a person giving up sex for lent is not especially novel but could have been more interesting given a better script and better performances. Then there are little things that just don’t make sense to me – why doesn’t anyone think that Matt maybe suffers from a serious addiction? The fact that he can’t seem to keep himself from sleeping with woman after woman after woman doesn’t seem out of place to anyone? He’s just that charming? His character doesn’t appear that way in the film to me. Not recommended.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) The picture looks decent, but is certainly not up to par with other recent Blu-ray releases. I’m surprised at the quality of the image… the movie was never one that you would use to show off a new HD TV, but you expect better than this.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The sound is adequate and actually quite immersive.
Commentary with Director Michael Lehmann, Producer Michael London, and Screenwriter Robert Perez: A decently interesting commentary, the three talk at length about the filmmaking process but tend to go off on tangents that aren’t necessarily relevant or interesting to a casual viewer.
The Teaser Trailer is also included on the disc.