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New Review: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

June 16, 2009

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It is exactly movies such as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past that are dangerous to women. Sure, Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner’s character) may be fairly strong willed and honest to a fault in calling Conner Mead (Matthew McConaughey) out on his faults. But would a 14-year-old girl watching this as one of her first films see that strength or see how Jenny throws away healthy opportunities to be with the bad boy that she hopes underneath is a good guy (a fixer-upper type). Sure, she has the respect to walk away from him after he ditches her but a few ghosts that scare him send her into his arms so easily.

And there is no doubt this movie is made for women – they are shown as the “stronger” characters that are more important as all the bridesmaids are given major speaking roles where the groomsmen are secondary background characters that hardly have any lines. The balance there is odd as is some of the dialogue – such as Daniel Sunjata’s character Brad who often refers to himself as the wedding sex prize for Jenny. WHO SAYS THINGS LIKE THAT WITH A STRAIGHT FACE? And why would that not creep her out enough to get the hell out of there?

But I guess when you have to choose between the guy who seems perfect and is sent in as your “wedding sex” (lame) and a jerk that ditched you and broke your heart repeatedly, why would you not go for the guy who has never kept faith with you just because he says he changed?

Dear 14-year-old girls – do not believe this. Please for your own sake – go with the Brad character if you get the chance. Choose the good guy who will care for you not the bad boy who seems so “dreamy.”  Sure, the message is that love is important – but the reality is how many ghosts are really going to drag your Conner-like man into a wake up call?

Why can’t there be a more honest comedy with romance? Sure, have humor but find a way for the characters to not be a stereotype in this type of film – it can be done – look at 40-year-old-Virgin, look at Knocked Up (why I keep picking examples with Seth Rogen, I don’t know).

Also disappointing is the wooden performance from Michael Douglas as Uncle Wayne – a Hugh Hefner type playboy that was forced to raise Conner and his younger brother Paul (played actually fairly well by Breckin Meyer) after their parents died young.

Paul is the character most related to Scrooge’s young nephew in Charles Dicken’s classic Victorian tale “A Christmas Carol.” Although not set at Christmas, the story tries to follow along with the basic plot – three ghosts visit – an annoying teenager that Conner lost his virginity to, his assistant and some modelesque silent female to represent the future. Uncle Wayne serves as the Jacob Marley in the tale.

But instead of the sweet Tiny Tim that changes how the Scrooge character feels – we have a strange rearrangement of the main moral tale combining the nephew with Tiny Tim into Paul – a shift that feels awkward all the way through. The shoddy script reflects upon the poor performances from most of the cast. The technical transitions between ghostly worlds is at times interesting (the assistant shifting from ghost to present) and awful (the pink strobe light and fog as the teen walks him back to the present).

And honestly, if you are going to recreate Dickens – this is not the route – but I appreciate the gamble of trying to put it in a non-Christmas context. Unfortunately, the gamble didn’t pay off.

The film has made $52,966,001 as of June 15 according to boxoffice.com for domestic but McConaughey’s other ventures into romantic comedy have netted slightly more, except Failure to Launch which netted about $50 million total in its theatrical run (for comparison of McConaughey romcom’s see here). I think its time for McConaughey to foray into a new arena – perhaps a drama? According to imdb.com – sounds like he may be doing just that with three new possible films, The Grackle, Brilliant and Hammer Down (a Nascar drama!). I could use a return of the Time to Kill star away from his awkward romantic comedy leads where his smirk and over the top charm seem oddly cut from the same McConaughey attitude – as do all romantic comedies once a star is born – Hugh Grant is another example of this follow the same format to a tee and hope it keeps paying off.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 1:35 pm

    Glad to see you get this up and running. I remember the early concept phase and thought it was great. I really like the site design! I bookmarked it under inspiration.!!

  2. March 25, 2010 3:54 am

    @ jake s. I totally agree, it was such a good movie!

  3. Jake S. permalink
    June 17, 2009 9:51 am

    I loved this movie. Daniel Sunjata was brilliant in his small role. he should have gotten more to do so was under-used. And he refered to himself jokingly as the wedding sex because that was how the bridesmaids referred to him so it was not serious when he said it but rather self depricating. Also I LOVE Garner.

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