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Friday, March 01, 2002
40 Days and 40 Nights (no stars)
Directed by: Michael Lehmann
Written by: Rob Perez
Starring: Josh Hartnett and a bunch of people I don’t care about
Rated R (Nudity and the Fall of Rome)

Never in my life have I been so offended by a movie. I’ve seen Pink Flamingos, which features acrobatic genitals, a morbidly obese woman in a playpen eating eggs and a drag queen eating dog poop. That didn’t offend me. I laughed the whole way through Natural Born Killers. However, this seemingly innocent ‘romantic comedy’ made me want to destroy everything around me.

I wish I could say that I’m not mincing my words. Obviously, I have to. Which is probably for the best.

If you don’t know the premise of the movie already, good for you. Matt (Hartnett) is a slut. He has been single for six months and is having sex with any female in sight. But, oh, the poor guy is still hung up on his ex-girlfriend. So, even though he’s a huge whore, he gets freaked out after the act, and sometimes during the act since he’s still thinking about his one true love. He confides his problems to his brother, a priest-in-training. Matt then decides to do the ‘unthinkable’ – no sex (or sex-related activities) for 40 days! But, then he meets a girl, starts liking her a whole lot, and, for some reason, feels compelled to lie about the fact that he’s taken a vow of celibacy for Lent. People are betting that he can’t make it. Stuff happens, and I hate this movie.

From a technical standpoint, yes, this movie was well made. Clever edits and sight gags. Better than average. The acting was well done. The writing wasn’t terrible. It was a bit dated (Matt is a ‘dot commer’), but, it was fairly snappy.

However, this film made me sick.

It made me sick on many different levels. It sickens me when people are reduced to nothing more than their most base urges. Yes, people get horny, but that’s not the primary motivation in people’s lives. I refuse to believe that it is. There are schools of philosophy that teach that we are little more than pleasure-seeking machines. I disagree with those schools greatly.

While I am not the most religious person in the world, I don’t stand for religions being debased in this way. Any religion. It’s one thing to make a religious satire like The Life of Brian or a song like “Every Sperm is Sacred”. It’s quite another to pass off a vow of celibacy for Lent as being equal to the temptations Christ faced while fasting in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. It’s one thing make the suicide scene in M*A*S*H look like “The Last Supper”. It’s just plain wrong to make Josh Hartnett into a Christ-symbol by being handcuffed to a bed so he won’t break his vow.

Sex, or the lack thereof, can be a very, very funny thing. “Seinfeld” did it very well on at least two occasions. The “Master of My Domain” episode is a perfect example of this. So is any episode of “Benny Hill” or “Laugh-In”. Things like that deconstruct sex, show just how silly and stupid and just plain fun it is. 40 Days and 40 Nights elevated it to such a level, made it the primary focus of every character in the movie that there are no redeemable people in the movie. Everyone in the film is a slut, or wishes that they were. I wish I were kidding.

The movie hates women. Which sickens me even more. I’ve been watching the Fight Club DVD for about a week. Fight Club features such lines as “If I had a tumor, I’d name it Marla,” and “We’re a generation of men raised by our mothers. Maybe another woman isn’t what we need in our life.” One scene in 40 Days features 2 women trying to regain the ‘power’ of withholding sex back from Matt by making out in front of him to make him break his vow. Another has a woman spreading her legs to show off the tattoo on her inner thigh, making the most unsubtle innuendoes ever, and then making a photocopy of her butt, just in case he changes his mind. The female lead, Erica, is frustrated because she has such a great relationship with Matt, but she isn’t having sex with him. Fine, we get the point. It’s not just men that think about sex. But, why portray women as being men without the same anatomy? As I stated earlier, everyone in the movie is a slut. A trollop. A whore.

What sickens me the most is that this movie will make lots and lots of money. It comes out less than a week after Fox aired a show about a bunch of fat people gorging themselves on mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs and butter to prove who was the most deserving of being executed by John Doe from Se7en. Now, we are treated to a movie that reduces the audience to nothing more than genitals with bodies attached, and tries to make us laugh about it. It takes one of the most sacred times of the Christian year and turns it into a joke. It takes the concept of strengthening yourself through self-denial and turns it into a parlor game. Perhaps I’m being puritanical. Perhaps I should lighten up. Perhaps I’m just waiting for the return of vomitoriums so we can continue gorging ourselves until our society collapses under the weight of its own excesses.

Did I mention that this movie offended me?

Comments by: YACCS