40 Days & 40 Nights (15)

Review by Jack Foley

FIRST we had to contend with American teens who couldn’t wait to get ‘laid’; now we have a guy who determines to give up sex - and all things sexual - for Lent, in a bid to prove himself.

Yet cumbersome and churlish as this may seem post-American Pie and Road Trip, 40 Days and 40 Nights, another coming-of-age comedy starring Josh Hartnett and Shannyn Sossamon, is actually tremendous fun which benefits from a slightly more thoughtful approach to its subject matter.

Hartnett plays Matt Sullivan, a commitment-phobic IT guy still struggling to get over his last big relationship, who vows to give up sex for 40 straight days in a bid to prove that he can finish something.

His vow takes in all things sexual, from just plain kissing to even hand relief, yet is almost immediately put to the test when he meets the beautiful Sossamon (of A Knight’s Tale) while doing his laundry and embarks upon a relationship with the new woman of his dreams.

To make matters harder, his friends and work colleagues learn of the vow and start a sweepstake, resorting to desperate measures in order to win the lucrative pot and relieve Matt of his increasingly heavy burden.

Directed by Michael Lehmann - who went from the promising Heathers to Hudson Hawk - 40 Days and 40 Nights actually benefits from taking a slightly more mature approach to its subject matter than audiences may initially think.

There are gross-out moments, of course, usually involving self-gratification (Hartnett’s ultra-horny boss, played by Griffin Dunne, is particularly prone to toilet rushes) but there is also some more subtle comedy on show - oh, and a fair smattering of gorgeous, semi-naked, would-be models to provide plenty of eye-candy!

Lehmann also throws in a couple of darker-than-usual twists as well as some barbed observations on the state of fidelity in these modern times, while also avoiding too many cliches and keeping things fresh and bubbly throughout.

Hartnett makes a believable male lead, while Sossamon is simply stunning, and there is amiable support from the likes of Paulo Costanzo and the aforementioned Dunne.

The guys will probably lap up the laddishness and babes on display, while the girls will swoon at Hartnett and find the whole thing sweet. Perfect Friday-night viewing, then, from the team behind Bridget Jones's Diary.