Enkomputiligis Don HARLOW

40 Days and 40 Nights

by Rob PEREZ

reviewed by Don Harlow

I suppose I could stay home and process 150 e-mail messages per evening, or watch Practical Magic for the 117th time, or go through the first 13 episodes of Smallville again, but once in a while you want to get out of the house and see a new movie, even if you've convinced yourself that there's nothing worth seeing. You can at least prove to yourself that you were right ...

I don't know exactly where the boundary between soft porn and hard core is located, but this movie pushes at it.

Matt (Josh Hartnett) had a pretty bad breakup with his former girl friend Nicole (Vinessa Shaw), and now, whenever he's having sex, which seems to be most of the time, his performance is seriously and negatively affected by the fact that he keeps seeing cracks forming in the ceiling. He decides to swear off sex for Lent -- the 40 days and 40 nights of the title -- and, naturally, his office mates can't believe that he'll stick to it, and form a betting pool on the date when he will yield to temptation. The pool is hosted on the office server, and naturally goes global, though why somebody in Bangla Desh should care whether or not Matt can stick it out for forty days (and nights) is never explained. Three days into Lent he meets Erica (Shannyn Sossamon, of A Knight's Tale) at the local laundromat, and everything goes downhill from there.

We can skip the sex and look at things with which I'm more familiar. Matt works (in his spare time, when he's not involved in a date) for a dot-com company in San Francisco. I've worked for two dot-coms (peace be on their souls!), as well as three game companies, and never saw a corporate culture that resembled this one. The people who work for the company worry more about sex than they do about their jobs. The rest rooms are built for the apparent purpose of relieving not the bladder or the bowels but the ductless glands, and copies of "Penthouse" are kept around specifically for this purpose. The primary use of the photocopiers, which are built to support human weight, is for young ladies in non-existent skirts to generate explicit invitations, an activity common in urban folklore but of which I've never run into a genuine example. The workers drink not Jolt Cola but orange juice spiked with viagra.

Just as well they think of nothing but sex, because if they actually concentrated on their work, they'd be in even more serious trouble. Matt's main reference books, as far as I could tell, in this 2002 movie are Netscape 2 Unleashed, the VRML Sourcebook, and a primer on Visual J++, technologies which had their day (or, in the case of VRML, didn't) around the time that the leading actor and actress were graduating from high school or shortly thereafter. A dot-com that based its technology around VRML, used Visual J++ as a development tool, and concentrated on Netscape 2 as its target browser of choice would have gone belly-up faster than most of the real-world dot-coms did.

Worse -- and this is a personal peeve -- I simply can't imagine anybody going into a fugue over Nicole, who strikes me more as a blonde shark than a woman.

Oh, and there is Matt's brother, who appears to be fighting a losing battle to become a priest, and who will probably be defrocked shortly thereafter. Does the Church still have an Index to which to add this film?

See it on rented tape or DVD. Or don't, as the spirit moves you.

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