One of the more gratifying feelings a movie critic can have is the feeling of going into a picture expecting tiresome clich├ęs of an overplayed genre, only to discover delightfully surprising freshness and soul where all the hackneyed conventions usually are.

"40 Days and 40 Nights" is such a movie. Misleadingly marketed as just another misogynistic romp through the young male libido, this often ribald comedy about a frustrated 20-something giving up sex for Lent is what the puerile, simplistic "American Pie," "Tomcats" and "Saving Silverman" might have been, had they been made by people with imagination and wit.

Directed by Michael Lehmann -- the man behind the twisted teen angst and irony of the subversive '80s cult hit "Heathers" -- "40 Days" finds many new and inventive ways to make sexual frustration funny.

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