"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past": shallow, mildly enjoyable but half-baked rom com
When a romantic comedy like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is released the same weekend as a blockbuster film like Wolverine, the studio must have great faith in the movie, or think it’s a dog of a movie. On the surface, it seems to be the latter, but studio execs might’ve also wanted an estrogen-filled alternative during a male-dominated weekend at the box-office, and Ghosts certainly fits that bill. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is fluffy and altogether pointless entertainment at best, with a handful of fun moments and not anything that actually rings true life.
A smooth-talking successful fashion photographer and womanizer named Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) heads to his younger brother Paul’s (Breckin Meyer) wedding to control freak Sandra (Lacey Chabert). Free-wheeling bachelor Connor has slept with most of the brides maid’s, including former flame Jenny (Jennifer Garner). During the weekend, he has an epiphany ala Dickens A Christmas Carol, when the ghost of Connor’s womanizer Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) shows up and brings the ghosts of his girlfriends past, present and future to teach him a lesson or two about how to truly treat women and the true meaning of love and loyalty.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a lazy excuse for a movie, but fun, forgettable entertainment sandwiched between all the Wolverine-Trekkie craziness that will dominate the early summer season. Much like a cruise, it’s a sunny, shallow getaway with loads of handsome people making eyes at each other and pretending to be funny. Mark Waters, the guy who directed half-way decent movies The Spiderwick Chronicles and Mean Girls, ends up with a half-baked, mildly enjoyable rom com. A novel premise for sure but so lazily executed you’ll forget it why you’re even there after awhile.
I give McConaughey a little (and just a little) slack because he’s a Texas boy, but he manages to play a version of this same womanizer stud in every movie, and while I do give him credit in Ghosts for actually keeping his shirt on and overall, it’s far better than the utterly dreadful Fool’s Gold, he still lacks emotional depth, particularly in the film’s climax, to reach out and emotionally connect with his (largely female) audience. The changes in his character, while honorable, are really just surface changes, and he’s still as annoying as he was at the film’s beginning (it also cheerfully and unrealistically overlooks the idea of any STD’s as he beds so many women).
As well, the more engaging parts of Ghosts come from the supporting cast of mostly women that surround McConaughey in the movie. Co-star Garner has never been more likable as she has been here (and really deserves better), which makes it even more difficult to buy that such an intelligent woman would tolerate someone like Connor for even 5 minutes, much less over many years. Even better is Emma Stone (The House Bunny) as the ghost of his girlfriends past, a 16-year old frizzy-haired brace face Valley Girl who’s much smarter than she looks, and ghost of girlfriends present, Connor’s long-suffering, lonely but caustic personal assistant (Noureen DeWolf).
Michael Douglas has the most fun in Ghosts as the slimy Uncle Wayne, the special Burt Reynolds role with “and” attached to it in the credits. With greasy, slicked-back white hair and rose-colored glasses, he spouts bad advice and is a horrible role model to a young Connor/McConaughey. His most memorable advice: “women like to be screwed, but not screwed over.” That could really apply to the movie-going audience who’ll pay good money to see Ghosts. Watch for a smokin’ Anne Archer (ironically Douglas’ screwed-over wife in Fatal Attraction) in a very brief role as the bride’s hot mom.
Handsomely filmed, energetically paced and peppered with a few entertaining moments (a wedding cake, some horny bridesmaids among them), most of which come early on. You won’t buy a single minute of Ghosts or remember it after it’s over, but it’s mindless entertainment for 90 minutes racing to a cheesy, predictable ending and an even cheesier ‘80s REO Speedwagon song. McConaughey, a wedding and loads of pretty people may make some good eye candy, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great movie, either.
McConaughey or romantic comedy fans will love Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. The rest of us will tolerate it. Live long, prosper and go at your own risk.
This review also published at: www.popsyndicate.com.