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Film / 40 Days and 40 Nights

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40 Days and 40 Nights is a 2002 romantic comedy film directed by Michael Lehmann, written by Rob Perez, and starring Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Paulo Costanzo, and Vinessa Shaw.

Matt Sullivan (Hartnett), after a bad breakup and finding out his ex-girlfriend Nicole (Shaw) is now engaged to another man, decides to give something up for Lent: Namely, any form of sex, including keeping himself company. When his friend/roommate Ryan (Costanzo) and their co-workers find out, they make a Side Bet that he won't make it, which eventually goes viral with people online betting as to what day and manner in which he'll break the vow. Things go a bit awry when he meets Erica (Sossamon), the girl of his dreams, soon after.


This film contains examples of:

  • All Men Are Perverts: The film ignorantly seems to imply that the main character is crazy or stupid for abstaining from sex to get a clearer head, insisting that it's in his nature to screw anything that moves. It's further backed by the other characters who mock him and later try to sabotage his decision, seemingly for no real reason.
  • Almighty Janitor: The bagel guy (played by Michael Maronna) seems to know everything. Incidentally, he's how Matt found out about Nicole's engagement.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The premise, and the very title of the film, put the duration of Lent at 40 days. This is correct in that the days observed as Lent between Ash Wednesday and Easter are 40. In actual duration however, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter is 46 days and 46 nights - Sundays aren't counted as part of Lent. If Matt was calling his vow over as of 40 days past Ash Wednesday, it'd still be a week until Easter.
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  • The Bet: What day and act Matt will break his vow of celibacy to.
  • Betty and Veronica: Erica (brunette but nice) and Nicole (blonde but not so nice).
  • Black Comedy Rape: Matt getting raped in his sleep by his ex is intended as this.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Part of the movie's plot.
  • Cheek Copy: One of Matt's female co-workers uses this to try to seduce him.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere:
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Jerry, Matt's boss, ends up doing this in the office bathroom after drinking orange juice laced with Viagra (which was meant for Matt by another co-worker).
  • Destructo-Nookie: After Matt's Lent vow is complete...let's just say he and Erica need to stock up on some essentials.
  • Dirty Old Man: Matt's boss Jerry, whose wife doesn't put out like she used to.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Nicole handcuffs Matt to his bed and has sex with him while he's asleep and, therefore, can't consent. The only person who has a problem with it is Erica, who thinks Matt had consensual sex with Nicole, forcing him to beg for Erica's forgiveness, while Nicole's act of sexual assault is brushed off as just a comically desperate form of cheating on their bet and not... y'know, sexual assault. Even Matt and Erica just seem to shrug it off once they agree that "it doesn't count." Audiences' reaction to it at the time were pretty negative, but it's safe to bet that simply pitching a gender-inverted version of that story would have gotten the writer fired on the spot.
  • Erotic Dream: During his final day of Lent, Matt has a dream of flying over a field made of breasts, then seeing Erica naked atop a washing machine in a laundromat as she goads him on to orgasm.
  • Erotic Eating: Matt catches a glimpse of a random woman eating a banana a...certain way.
  • Fan Disservice: Matt's Erotic Dream about Erica at the end is ruined by brief shots of Nicole sexually assaulting him in reality.
  • Fanservice Extra: One fantasy sequence Matt has is of every woman he sees naked. Cue topless women galore (all of them young and good-looking).
  • Future Society, Present Values: Almost every aspect of this film from the premise itself to the execution is done in such a way that anyone in modern times would cringe upon seeing it. Matt is treated like dirt by everyone around him for deciding to go celibate—which is a perfectly fine option for anyone at all—and then the consequences of the bet and especially the fact that Nicole rapes Matt just to win a stinking bet. Everything is simply laughed off and there are no consequences for the things that happen to Matt and Erica over the course of the film. It treats men as if they're supposed to just hump anything that comes along and most of the women are portrayed as awful or shallow as well.
  • Gag Penis / Raging Stiffie: In the last few days of Lent, Matt's knocking things off of the table when he turns.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Two of Matt's female co-workers pull this to try and get Matt to crack.