Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1

Content: -2

Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Lacey Chabert, Michael Douglas, Emma Stone, Anne Archer, Robert Forster. Romantic Comedy. Written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore. Directed by Mark Waters.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A committed bachelor who thinks nothing of breaking up with multiple women on a conference call, Connor Mead’s mockery of romance proves a real buzz-kill for his kid brother, Paul, and a houseful of well wishers on the eve of Paul’s wedding. Just when it looks like Connor may single-handedly ruin the wedding, he is visited by the ghosts of his former jilted girlfriends, who take him on a revealing odyssey through his failed relationships—past, present and future. Together they attempt to find out what turned Connor into such an insensitive jerk and whether there is still hope for him to find true love…or if he really is the lost cause everyone thinks he is.

PREVIEW REVIEW: An insult to Dickens (A Christmas Carol) and Capra (It’s A Wonderful Life), this monstrosity disguises itself as a romantic comedy meant to tug at the heartstrings and offer guidance to the emotionally inept. The only thing I can figure is that someone at the Warner Bros. Think Tank must have suggested, “Hey, let’s blend the tale of Scrooge with today’s casual honeymoon-before-the-wedding lifestyle, and cast Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson as the warring leads. We can’t lose with that premise." When they couldn’t get Kate, the reasoning must have continued in this vein… "What? We can’t get Kate. Ah, how about Affleck’s wife? What’s her name? Oh, yeah, Jessica Garner. No, no, Jennifer Garner. That’s it. Can we get her? Or is she one of those who needs to read the script first?”

Undeniably, Mr. McConaughey has appeal. I know this, because I saw the line waiting to enter the screening. It was peopled mainly by female couples unable to lure their menfolk. Oh, there were some sadsacks in tow, but after three or four “comedies” starring Matthew McConaughey, most men can no longer be fooled, ladies.

Despite the film’s attempt at an ethereal message, there's a certain crudity attached to the plotline and remains until the end credits. And while this is a romantic comedy, the lighthearted mood is accosted by the lead actor who manages to profane both God’s name and Jesus’ in order to emphasize his earnestness. McConaughey always plays the scruffy libertine, be it in a comic or dramatic role. He does so with a certain flair, an ease that suggests he is either a gifted thespian or just a natural at playing a cad.

I sat, scratching my head at Hollywood’s attempt to reincarnate Cary Grant, or William Powell, or Rex Harrison through this modern day movie star. For while Mr. McConaughey is a fine actor, competent with action sequences when bolstered by CGI magic, or able to handle dramatic situations when drenched in sprayed-on perspiration, it is painfully apparent that Mr. McConaughey is no Cary Grant. Or Hugh Grant. Or even Lou Grant.

Lovely Jennifer Garner, who managed to beguile us for several seasons on Alias, now seems to have been Svengali-ed by a Colonel Parker-like manager (Elvis’s manager who never allowed his client to veer far from a proven screen format). Though Ms. Garner is capable of going up and down the theatrical scale, in her recent films she delivers only one-note sambas.

I suppose it’s difficult for younger audiences to relate to 1940s romantic war-of-the-sexes comedies like His Girl Friday or Woman of the Year, when wit was used to garner laughs rather than rowdiness. But why would today's moviegoers want to relate to anyone in this film? Every emotion in this comedy of errors seems false. So what truth could they possibly get from this film?

Leaving the theater, I reflected upon my rather callow youth. How fortunate I was to have known women who saw more in me than was truly there. Especially that one.

Well, what do you know? Maybe there was a purpose for The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Warner Bros.

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some crude sexual innuendo from both sexes; the Michael Douglas character is a crude ghost who constantly utters suggestive sexual remarks, and at one point we see him standing at a urinal – a ghost urinating?

Obscene Language: To the public at large, it’s no longer considered unladylike to use certain vulgar expressions, but hearing Ms. Garner utter a..h... and a couple other crudities seemed uncalled for; there area few other expletives and once a woman is referred to by the b-word.

Profanity: One profane use of God’s name and one of His by the male lead; Jesus is also used in an irreverent manner by the female lead.

Violence: None

Sex: One brief sexual situation, not graphic; several women are scantily clad and models are seen in their underwear; a great deal of sexuality.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Lots of drinking throughout

Other: None

Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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