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Movie Review For Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: Formulaic and Forgettable

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past might as well be titled Wedding Planner's Failure to Lose a Guy in Fools Gold of Girlfriends Past, because it's nothing we haven't seen before from Matthew McConaughey.

The actor is a global star with actual talent and loads of charm (he's fun in Dazed and Confused and dreamily charismatic in A Time to Kill). Yet, for some reason, he has spent the past decade or so skating by in major-studio films that all pretty much resemble each other. Typically, the only thing that varies from one reductive and formulaic McConaughey rom-com to another is his leading lady. Every so often, another actress steps in for stalwart Kate Hudson to portray the generic straight woman to his man-child cad.

It's been disappointing to see a guy who possesses the very elusive "it" factor squander it, but now he's actually getting on my nerves. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past indicates that whatever it was that made his smarmy characters a little lovable is now completely tapped out. To see what I mean,


McConaughey seems so icky and lecherous in this movie that you forget how good looking he is. Even his Texas accent, once so adorable to me, can't save him . . . because his character is supposed to be from the East Coast! That's just lazy. But maybe this will be a wake-up call that the time has come for McConaughey to shake it up a bit and do something unexpected (that doesn't involve surfers). Or not.

Anyway, the movie's concept has some potential: I kind of like the idea of using supernatural intervention, a la Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, to reform a toxic bachelor. In fact, with a different script, this could have resulted in a witty romp, especially if it had a charming, Clooney-esque type at its center. Instead, we meet Connor Mead, a high-flying fashion photographer who in the span of about 15 minutes breaks up with three women simultaneously via video chat and sexually humiliates a character played by Christina Milian, who naturally digs that kind of thing and proceeds to hop onto his lap in her underwear. Romantic, huh?

The only evidence that Connor has a heart is his affection and commitment to his brother, whose wedding he attends despite his distaste for marriage. Once there, he wreaks havoc in a most unfunny way and is downright mean teasing his ex-girlfriend — I mean, one true love — Jenny, played by Jennifer Garner (who looks both adorable and embarrassed to be in this movie). Eventually, Connor gets a visit from the best part of this movie: his sexist and dead Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas). Yes, Uncle Wayne has come to warn Connor that being a d-bag and not finding love results in an empty funeral. Douglas is a treat to have on screen and could teach McConaughey some things about how to play a slimy misogynist with verve.

Garner's Jenny is good with the psychoanalyzing one-liners, and the actress has good timing. Jenny's supposed to be the kind of sharp, down-to-earth, quick-witted woman who's happy to call Connor and Uncle Wayne on their crap. In another, much-better movie, it would feel good watching this lady level the spray-tanned himbos of the world with cutting rhetoric. However, this time around, I kept thinking, "Lady, don't waste your brain power on this jerk." By the end, when their inevitable kiss comes, all I could think was, "Lady, don't waste your kisses and heart and future and life on this jerk!"

McConaughey succeeds at making his character deplorable but fails at infusing his performance with anything redeeming or sympathetic. If he doesn't change, he undermines the movie's entire premise — predictable as it may be — which asks: can this d-bag change and get the girl? And that echoes another question: can McConaughey ever recapture what once made him so special? Sadly, I think the answer to both at this point is: who cares?

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Join The Conversation
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
I'm finding it interesting that people seem to be offended that MM has been taking the easy route with the rom-coms lately. He has said in interviews that he worked really hard for a time in order to make enough money to live the easy life that he always imagined. He is now doing exactly that. As long as people keep paying to go to these movies, it's his prerogative to make them. Not every actor is focused on winning the almighty Oscar and being a critical darling.
justcarrie2 justcarrie2 8 years
Yeah, well....I saw this movie this weekend and was seriously disappointed. Although, as others have mentioned the trailers were well....a little lacking but I thought what the heck MM and JG..who I do like...maybe it will be ok. What could have potentially be a funny movie and still keep in those romantic confines didn't make it. The writing was, well, there wasn't any writing. Obviously a big problem for any movie...and MM..turned into a whole lot nothin'. As everyone keeps mentioning JG seemed very embarrassed by even participating in this was really hitting the nail on the head. Poor thing...I do like her and think she is capable of alot more. Painstaking to watch and so sad to see what started in A Time to Kill a very promising career has just slowly slid down hill. Obviously he doesn't feel he needs to try...or try harder. Made the money and now just enjoying life with his every now and then supplemental movie. Why JG was a part of this who knows but she must have been convinced by someone!
pwhite98270 pwhite98270 8 years
No reason for me to see this film. Not even interested.
vanilla19 vanilla19 8 years
Strange..I saw this movie because nothing else was playing, and was pleasantly surprised by it.
marshawjs marshawjs 8 years
his movies have always been carefree, fun and enjoyable to watch with a little awkwardness mixed in - perfect for a rainy sunday
new new 8 years
I never liked MM to begin with, so I will probably not watch this movie. Thanks for the review, it was great.
willowdiamond willowdiamond 8 years
you forgot pointless.
sugarbox sugarbox 8 years
yeah...but personally, i enjoy seeing his typical rom-com every couple of years he does one. it's expected, but i personally love them (well...except fool's gold...)...
medenginer medenginer 8 years
I'm a fan but how many chick flicks is MM going to capitalize on. He needs to get out of his commercialized cookie cutter falling in love material. I did like him in We are Marshall.
yummymango yummymango 8 years
Thanks for the heads up Buzz! Wedding Planner was his only rom-com movie that I actually saw in the theatres. I guess he's still doing the same formulaic thing because he's found his niche and that's probably what brings in the big bucks. LOL. I took TammyO's suggesting and headed over to that website to check out the article. Funny stuff... though the fan submitted posters looked so much better!
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
I love how you borrowed from Sex and the City in using the term "toxic bachelor," Buzz! :) This movie seems like it could have so potential but the commercials aren't funny and Matthew McConaughey seems more annoying than usual. And it does seem like Jennifer Garner is embarassed (and out of place) in this movie, but thats just my opinion from seeing the previews. I may just go see it because I enjoy rom-coms and I need something lighthearted to watch.
kafarine-tin-tin kafarine-tin-tin 8 years
Love the movie title, Buzz. :D Kinda what I thought of after reading the article TammyO mentioned (which, btw, is hysterical).
lwimbush lwimbush 8 years
I don't know what E! was talking about, kscincotta, but Buzz definitely summed this up to a T.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
Interesting. The review on E! basically said that MM is formulaic but charming in this role and that Jen Garner is icy and unlikable. They generally loved this movie. Now I'm intrigued about which side of the fence I would fall on...
laurenlanzaosias laurenlanzaosias 8 years
i love jen garner so much, so i might still have to watch this, but mcconaughey-hey really needs to break out of this box he's trapped himself in...
TammyO TammyO 8 years
If you go to you can find this amazingly hilarious article called "Matthew McConaughey's Next Ten Movie Posters" in the columnists section by Daniel O'Brien. I was rolling around laughing cause it's SO true about his movie rolls they are all the same formula.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
I had low expectations from the start; thanks for confirming them, Buzz. Loved the review.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 8 years
hmmmm... I have been feeling iffy towards MM for a while...too bad, bc it looked like it could have been cute. I don't like rom coms where you feel grosser after watching it... ala My Best Friend's Girl
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