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Let's Get Past This

Movie Title: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
Spoilers: No

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In Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, you have a shallow, underwhelming, and unfunny film that lets you down further than you thought it would. It’s pretty bad, and don’t be deceived by the good actors just because they are a thousand times better than the parts they play.

You have Matthew McConaughey, that Cajun-looking dude with a southern drawl who comes off like a guy hired to paint your downstairs bedroom. McConaughey’s tan alone, much like his prominent facial features, qualifies him for this film. As far as I’ve seen, any part he plays he plays well, but he doesn’t quite “nail” (pun intended) the character of Connor Mead, the babe-nailing, wining-and-dining jerk he is supposed to be. He seems too good a person at heart. You could tell he was having fun with the cast off set.

But McConaughey has no strikes against him, and neither does a smooth-talking, well-haired “Uncle Wayne” (Michael Douglas). He fit his part. His cup of radiance runneth over in everything since Romancing the Stone (1984). Uncle Wayne is supposed to be the grand poobah of womanizers, the advance-making master who speaks great truths: “The power of the relationship lies with whoever cares less.” It really is true.

As his student, Connor Mead learns the ropes well. “In the end, love makes you weak, dependent, and fat.” Connor’s a busy man, so busy that the only other thing aside from his well-paying career as a professional photographer that he has time for is his kid brother whose wedding he almost misses.

Connor is a creep who puts down love and anybody who boasts of its virtues. But Mead is going to be visited by three spirits—I guess three who died of the 33,000 girls he wronged in the past as a sly dog player. Are these women really dead? You’d think, but one of them can apparently teleport and operates part-time as a ghostly corrections officer to set people like Mead straight. Maybe she’s a guardian angel? But how then can she be employed as Mead's personal assistant? Was it just in his mind? Who the hell knows? The film is so bad that I didn’t care.

You know where the film goes. What you may not know is how effective Jennifer Garner is in her role as a psychologizing Jenny Perotti, one of Mead’s many brokenhearted ex’s who never recovered. Her character is ice cold and quick-witted in one of Garner's more appealing performances (I, for one, was never too taken with her in the wig-wearing Alias days). Her work is to be commended, even though the movie itself – with the exception of the upscale dialog – is an archetype of bad writing and lead balloon humor.

These ghosts (with obviously too much time on their hands) that visit Mead in efforts to show him how much of an ass he has been to the women he kicked to the curb make an already boring movie even less engaging. Things happened in Connor’s childhood that caused him to take an unfortunate path, and taking that path made the movie possible. But unfortunately for the movie (and the viewers), that path didn’t involve much comedy, and so we get “mac daddy” talk about how to “bag” women. We do get comic relief in the form of an Asian archer chick who asserts herself by shooting arrows and freaking people out. If you’re not laughing, that’s ok. I wasn’t either.

(JH)

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Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: A bachelor is haunted by the ghosts of his past girlfriends at his younger brother's wedding.
Director: Mark Waters
Starring: Matthew McConaughey “Connor Mead,” Jennifer Garner “Jenny Perotti,” Michael Douglas “Uncle Wayne,” Emma Stone “Allison Vandermeersh,” Breckin Meyer “Paul,” Lacey Chabert “Sandra,” Robert Forster “Sergeant Volkom,” Anne Archer “Vonda Volkom”
Genre: Comedy / Romance

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