Published Apr 30, 2009Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is another slice of processed cheese from the McConaughey rom-com assembly line that delivered Failure to Launch, and if that sounds like your idea of a good time, go ahead and see it. I was pretty bored but was happy to see that while Matthew McConaughey makes mediocre movies, he is not strictly a mediocre talent.
He stars here as Connor Mead, a cheerfully hedonistic millionaire fashion photographer who rails against the evils of marriage and breaks up with three girlfriends at once via conference call. He's a despicable character but McConaughey musters enough roguish charm to make him, well, not likeable exactly but at least presentable as the lead in a romantic comedy. It would be nice to see him flex his acting muscles in a real movie once in a while though.
The plot concerns Connor travelling to Newport to serve as the best man at his brother's (Breckin Meyer) wedding. From his first moment there he is an obnoxious boob, insulting the ceremony and hitting on every woman in sight, even the mother of the bride. He also exchanges curt words with Jenny (Jennifer Garner), the grade school crush he jilted during adulthood.
In a vaguely Dickens-inspired piece of "high concept" scripting, he finds himself visited by the ghost of his Uncle Louie (a surprisingly funny Michael Douglas), the womanizing cad who led young Connor astray, who warns Connor of the empty path he has chosen for himself. Later, Connor is visited by three ghosts who walk him through his past, present and future relationships.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is gimmicky, innocuous and instantly forgettable, the perfect formula for fans of the McConaughey oeuvre (and for those of us who aren't, its Dickensian plot at least lets us know how long until we can leave). But make no mistake: it's not very good. The McConaughey character's third act redemption is rushed and unconvincing, and his final scene with Garner is utterly shameless and unbelievable.
Perhaps the filmmakers are guilty of trying to shoehorn an obnoxious character into the type of pleasant rom-com where he just doesn't fit. Oh, and regarding that third act redemption, here's a question I keep asking myself during movies like this: am I supposed to be applauding the protagonist for doing the bare minimum that's expected of him as a human being? (Alliance)