Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Rated PG-13; Directed by Mark Waters; Starring Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert
Successful romantic comedies are a rare breed. Finding two attractive actors with romantic chemistry to play the lovebirds isn’t always easy, much less writing a script that allows the two to face a variety of clever complications before love triumphs in the end. Romantic comedies written with a high concept face a more difficult challenge: can the concept overcome our disbelief and manage not to get in the way of the love story? Ghosts of Girlfriends Past tries to win our hearts while giving us a “Christmas Carol” concept. Unfortunately, the movie tries, but fails. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a sad effort at romance, much less comedy.
Matthew McConaughey stars as a playboy photographer who has a way with the ladies…lots of ladies. Connor Mead is the type of man who is impervious to love and is willing to tell everyone why love is a mirage. This doesn’t go over too well with his brother’s wedding party. So, what’s a movie plot supposed to do? Why, have Michael Douglas show up as Connor’s dead uncle Wayne, another ladies man. This sets up the Christmas Carol plot, with Wayne telling Connor to expect visits from three ghosts during the night. This all leads to an examination of Connor’s long time love of Jenny (Jennifer Garner).
The plot is predictable and the performances average. McConaughey has some funny bones in him, but not as a romantic lead. Jennifer Garner can’t create a memorable character, but let’s blame that on the script and direction. The only one who seems to have fun in the movie is Michael Douglas as a swinger teaching Connor the ropes.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is also a depressing film. It’s hard to like many of the characters. Though the story gives us the big redemption scene, it’s even less believable that expected. There are some laughs here and there, but most of the humor is overblown and unsubtle. How many sex jokes does one movie need? I’m not even sure if a better script, director, and cast could save this film. Rethinking Dicken’s tale with a sex and romance slant seems unlikely to succeed no matter what talent is involved.
If desperate for a romantic film, you may want to skip Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Try renting something else on Netflix for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a lackluster romantic comedy — one with clumsy romance and awkward comedy.