GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST
*** (out of 5)
May 1, 2009
Matthew McConaughey as CONNOR MEAD
Jennifer Garner as JENNI PEROTTI
Breckin Meyer as PAUL
Lacey Chabert as SANDRA
Michael Douglas as UNCLE WAYNE
Emma Stone as ALLISON VANDERMEERSH
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Mark Waters
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Nowadays, the name of the game in Hollywood is counter-programming. Last year, when “Iron Man” was poised to gobble up all the money in the opening weekend of summer, “Made of Honor” made a successful run at the chick flick and date crowd by offering something different than the explosive action piece.
This year, the alternative to Wolverine cutting your head off is “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” newly pairing up Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner. The film tells the story of Connor Mead (McConaughey), a consummate womanizer who takes off the weekend to attend his brother’s wedding. Not being a big fan of marriage, his shenanigans threaten to break up the wedding, and Connor is in for a reckoning when he is given the Ebeneezer Scrooge treatment by a series of ghosts.
Connor’s dead Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) is his version of Jacob Marley, warning Connor of having a life without love. Soon, Connor is whisked away by three ghosts to show him why womanizing isn’t the best thing, and allowing him to rediscover his true love, Jenni Perotti (Jennifer Garner).
“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” works as a basic romantic comedy. There’s a polarizing nature to Matthew McConaughey, but I don’t fall into the McConaughey-haters camp. He holds his own as the charming Connor Mead, and he has decent chemistry with the otherwise seemingly uncomfortable Garner.
However, it’s the supporting cast that actually makes the best moments. Michael Douglas is great as Uncle Wayne, nailing his performance which doesn’t seem too far from his celebrity dating days. Likewise, the goofy and cute Emma Stone is perfect as the actual Ghost of Girlfriends Past, taking the form of Connor’s first conquest (which only lasted about 90 seconds).
This film works for its intended audience. There’s a lot of corny moments, forced romantic bits and some pretty unrealistic situations (including a bevy of smoking hot bridesmaids that are so eager to get laid at the wedding that they consider bedding the slate of dorky groomsmen… why wasn’t I invited to any of these weddings after college?). However, the movie hits all the right marks for a romantic comedy.
The film is directed by Mark Waters, who has given us movies like “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday.” And while there’s no Lindsay Lohan to be seen in the film (which is not a bad thing at all), Waters manages to serve up a slice a fluffy, sweet, light comedy.
That’s not to say there aren’t some rough spots. The film loses its focus about half-way through, and when it finally gains its footing, it never quite reaches the stride and momentum from the first half. Maybe if they brought Emma Stone back for the second half, it would have been better.
Finally, the character of Connor Mead, while funny, is a bit over the top at times. He doesn’t just womanize, but he does so blatantly in front of other women, and his charms seem to work on everyone. I’ve known some womanizers in my day, but no one has that much influence over the opposite sex. Looking back, he feels like an anti-fantasy for women with all their smarmy boyfriends rolled into one character.
Ultimately though, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” is far better than the last two opening summer weekend counter-programming choices (which included “Made of Honor” last year and the dreadful “Lucky You” opposite “Spider-Man 3” in 2007). And that’s a good thing for guys everywhere.