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40 Days and 40 Nights
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has extremely explicit (often humiliating) sexual situations and references, including casual sex, masturbation, nudity, Viagra, pornography (one tape is titled: In Diana Jones and the Temple of Poon), a same-sex kiss just for effect, overall skanky behavior, and a used condom. A woman has sex with a man without his consent (he is tied to the bed and thinks she is someone else). There is very strong language. Characters drink and smoke. Some viewers will be offended by the portrayal of a Catholic seminarian (Matt's brother), who is having his own problems with the vow of chastity.
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What's the story?
After being dumped by his girlfriend, Matt (Josh Hartnett) gives up sex for Lent. Enter the lithe and lissome Erica (Shannyn Sossamon of A Knight's Tale), whom he enjoys getting to know without jumping into bed. After a while it becomes awkward, and when she finds out what he's doing and that there's actually a website devoted to whether he'll last for 40 days, she feels hurt and betrayed. Then Nicole (Vinessa Shaw), the girl who dumped him, re-enters the picture.
Is it any good?
At the heart of a sex farce is someone who wants to have sex (preferably illicit) but is amusingly thwarted; this gives us the best of both worlds. We get to vicariously enjoy the illicit possibilities and feel righteously smug about the agonies the characters go through in pursuit of their quest. The problem these days is in finding believable excuses for keeping the characters apart. Not quite in the category of believable, even within the low-credibility threshold of a comedy, is this movie's premise.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Matt sees the world differently (literally and metaphorically) as a result of his vow. How would his relationship with Erica have been different if he had not taken the vow? Why was he unable to enjoy casual sex? Was it really his lingering feelings for Nicole or was it a sense that he had not connected with her any more than he did with his one-night stands?
- In theaters: March 1, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: September 17, 2002
- Cast: Josh Hartnett, Paulo Costanzo, Shannyn Sossamon
- Director: Michael Lehmann
- Studio: Miramax
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, nudity and language.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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