Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Directed by: Mark Waters
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Release Date: May 1, 2009
Plot: A successful photographer (McConaughey) who scrooges women for a hobby is visited by three … Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
Who’s It For? The dating crowd – particularly those who share the on-screen ages of Garner and McConaughey. Of course, this really just means anyone not seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Expectations: The Matthew McConaughey + romantic comedy formula was recently cracked by a popular humor blog that offered some frighteningly plausible ideas. Considering McConaughey’s track record, it was expected for him to play some slimy and smiley womanizer who gets “put in his place” by a female (Garner) aware of his smooth-talking … but not idiotic enough to fully lose against it.
Matthew McConaughey as Connor Mead: To this character, being a man requires using women. One of McConaughey’s more haunting roles, Connor is classic scum with accelerated boneheadedness, whose awful thoughts about women are rewarded with even more female tail. Maybe this role might be less disgusting if it were played by someone that didn’t embody the role so easily, all while never dropping that obnoxious grin.
Jennifer Garner as Jenny Perotti: A melodramatic, teary-eyed performance of an emotional ragdoll who attempts throughout the entire story to be the catalyst for Mead’s non-jerkiness. As frigid as Jenny tries to be, she’s still weak at the knees for Connor’s charm (??!).
Michael Douglas as Uncle Wayne: Douglas’ imitation of Hollywood producer Robert Evans is not given the amount of screen time that would be expected, despite his pivotal influence on the character of Connor Mead. He shows up on right when he’s expected, but not a second more. When he is on screen, Douglas is a mildly amusing instructional manual on how to be slimier and smoother than his haircut. Hey, if movies like Traffic can teach us how to buy and sell drugs, why not more advice on how to be oversexed, slimeball pond scum?
Talking: The sparse but funny banter seems to be reserved for the supporting characters, while most of the cheese is delivered with great pride by McConaughey.
Sights: One of Connor’s dreams involves him re-viewing every woman he’s ever “been” with. The number of female extras used in this scene boggles the mind, as that amount could be used to start a decent coup (against all things McConaughey, one would hope). Less disheartening than the amount of human tissues Connor has in his history is the lack of his bare chest. Not once does Mr. Love Boat show off his body, never mind his deck.
Sounds: As a part of the film’s retro feel, Ghosts uses convenient pop culture milestones like Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” or Macy Gray’s “I Try.” A band called All Too Much sings a title song which can only be heard halfway through the credits.
Best Scene: There is no particular best scene, but a few moments that let the comedic focus shift to the amusing supporting cast (Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster) are breaths of comedic fresh air.
Ending: See: A Christmas Carol, Scrooged, The Muppet Christmas Carol, etc.
Questions: Is McConaughey still valid in this world? Doesn’t the weight of sexiness belong to vampires and Paul Rudd these days?
Rewatchability: No, thanks – I’ll call you. Actually, I won’t even do that. This is not going to, nor will it ever, work out.
While I have the seemingly rare opportunity of being able to say I have never had sex with Matthew McConaughey, I can hang my head in “morning after” shame by acknowledging I was another player in his flirtatious brain games. In the beginning of the film, my repulsion towards his overtness turned into an ironic intrigue. A few legitimate laughs from the movie had me thinking maybe he wasn’t so bad, that he (or this film) might actually be kind of different than those “others.” Then when McConaughey amped up his uber-misogynist charm, I began to realize I had become another sucker to this seductive strategist – I was guilty of being another pawn.
At its best, this Ghosts of Girlfriends Past seems to capture the on-screen soul of McConaughey like a Ghostbusters’ proton pack. But it’s all too late before we realize the overall charm of this film, along with its life and blood, is as stale as the trio of long hair, silk shirts, and even Zima.
Final Score: 3/10