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Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past


Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster, Anne Archer, Emma Stone, Noureen DeWulf, Olga Maliouk and Daniel Sunjata.

Screenplay by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore.

Directed by Mark Waters.

Distributed by New Line Cinema.  100 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

I will preface this review by giving credit where credit is due.  Matthew McConaughey is – or at least can be – a very capable actor.  When he has a script of some craft and intelligence, he has a very good screen presence.

The problem is, he really hasn’t had a decent vehicle since the early days of his career – back in the Dazed and Confused/A Time To Kill/Amistad/Lone Star days.  Instead, he has settled into a series of crappy vehicles, mostly interchangeable supposed romantic comedies (How To Lose a Man in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, The Wedding Planner).  Then he’ll throw in cheesy dramas (We Are Marshall, Two for the Money) or the occasional stupid vanity project (Surfer, Dude or his cameo in Ben Stiller’s awful Tropic Thunder) for bad measure.

The biggest part of the problem is that he has made a specialty of playing shallow, cheesy pretty boys who finally learn how to feel and through the love of a good woman – and his character here is probably the biggest asshole that McConaughey has played yet.

He plays Connor Mead, a fashion photographer who beds every fashion model he meets, lays down a smooth and slightly creepy line of patter on every woman that he ever meets and scores every single time.

You hear a character description like that and I’ll bet I know what you’re thinking.

A Christmas Carol!

Yes, that’s right.  This is a cheesy takeoff on the well-worn Scrooge storyline.  Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.  Ghost of Christmas Past.  Get it?

No, I don’t really either.

However, there is the clever germ of a story here – an unrepentant ladies’ man has to meet up with all the women he has screwed over throughout the years and find out what happened after he slinked out of bed in the middle of the night.

It’s not exactly the most original story idea – though I would assume from their very pedestrian skills that the filmmakers are not huge Ingmar Bergman fans – but it is a clever storyline.

Too bad so little is done with it.

Rather than taking place on Christmas, this takes place on the eve of the wedding of Connor’s little brother (Breckin Meyer) and his bridezilla (Lacey Chabert).  Of course, the maid of honor is Jenny (Jennifer Garner) – the one who got away in Connor’s life.

The wedding is being held in the huge mansion of Connor’s teacher in the way of the singles’ bar sleaze – his late Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) – a lifelong bachelor whose house is still a monument to his swordmanship.  There are a series of photos of the old guy with hot women lining the walls years after his death.  In fact, the guy was all about appearances – this guy was apparently so rich that he installed urinals in the bathrooms in his mansion.  Still, since the guy only had two heirs – his nephews – and neither one lives there, you kind of wonder why this mansion is still unchanged – or even in the family.

However, just like Jacob Marley, in death Uncle Wayne realizes how shallow and lonely his existence was.  Therefore, he tells Connor that he will be visited by three ghosts – of girlfriends past, present and future.  (Though if you get technical, only the past ghost had any kind of a romantic contact with the guy.)

This leads to a series of flashes back and forward which are supposed to make us believe that Connor and Jenny are fated to be together.  Problem is, McConaughey plays his role so creepily and as such an asshole that while the audience agrees that he could not do better than Jenny, we really don’t think it’s in her best interest to fall for his sorry (if shapely) ass.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is another sleazy detour for the star.  Just being a little better than Failure to Launch or Fool’s Gold is no real reason to recommend a movie.  Right about now, Matthew McConaughey should be worried about the ghost of his once promising career.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2009 All rights reserved. Posted: September 19, 2009.

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