A movie about a cocky, misogynistic womanizer?
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
sounds less like it was written FOR Matthew McConaughey
than it was written ABOUT Matthew McConaughey
…To be fair, it was originally written for Ben Affleck
back in 2003 when he was engaged to Jennifer Lopez, but when ‘Gigli’ bombed so badly the studio decided to shelve this film. What a coincidence that when it did finally come out six years later Affleck was out but it co-starred the woman Affleck
actually did marry, Jennifer Garner
) is the kind of guy who dumps three girlfriends!…at the same time!!...by teleconference!!!! Self described as a womanizing bachelor and high profile photographer with a disdain for marriage, he attends his little brother’s (Breckin Meyer
) wedding with a single goal: score with the only bridesmaid he somehow missed. But when an old childhood flame (Jennifer Garner
) re-enters his life to attend the wedding, Connor finds himself in the most unusual of circumstances. He's visited by the ghost of his late Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas
, the Jacob Marley of the story
), who was Connor's role model for womanizing back in the day, to warn his nephew of three visits from other ghost representing the past (Emma Stone
, the new and improved Lindsay Lohan
), present (Noureen DeWulf
) and future in the form of his ex-girlfriends.
Reading that premise back it sounds excruciating. No wonder I dreaded going to the screening for this. Little did I realize that this was another project directed by Mark Waters
- a man who has a growing record of taking what sounds like they’ll be the worst chick flicks or teen movies (‘Freaky Friday
’, ‘Mean Girls
’, ’Just Like Heaven
’) and making great little gems out of them. This makes me want to call him one of my favorite new directors (I mean really, when David Fincher makes a good movie there’s no real surprise there)…but then it makes me also think of referring to Waters
as “my new arch enemy” because every time he pulls off one of these little hat tricks it makes me hopeful for the next ‘The Ugly Truth
’ or ‘Post Grad
’ or ‘Bride Wars
’ or some other steaming pile of shit only for it to break my heart.
Waters seems to have a formula of making sure his movies are packed with flipped clichés and jokes that are smarter than the average bear—especially when said bear is a middle-aged woman living with a house full of cats. He understands that a significant chunk of the audience will be boyfriends who’ve been dragged into the theater, and he holds to the philosophy that just because it’s a dumb movie it doesn’t have to be a DUHMB
movie. There’s so much to laugh at in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
that for most of the film I forgot its direct connection to ‘A Christmas Carol’
Most of what makes this movie so funny is the supporting cast. There’s Emma Stone
as the teenage girl from 1988 (ironically, it’s the year the actress, was born) that Connor first made out with, who also serves as the Ghost of Past
and Noureen DeWulf
who does double duty as both Connor’s loyal personal assistant as well as the Ghost of Present- both of them steal every scene they’re in.
However, it’s Michael Douglas
as the 70s pimp-mack daddy of all time,”Uncle Wayne”,that nearly runs off with the whole movie. As much as you might laugh at Uncle Wayne to look at him, there’s no doubt his game is strong and for real.
Almost begrudgingly I have to give props to Matthew “shirtless” McConaughey for playing upon all the preconception of him as a person to make Connor a character that goes through a full dramatic arc. In the beginning he’s almost detestable, but as the movie goes on he makes a very convincing case for his side of things, only to then have it revealed just how wrong he is about everything.
It’s funny how 2009 was supposed to a huge year for lots of big franchised genre movies (*ahem* Transformers, X-Men, Terminator
). And yet, as many of those were disappointments the year so far has been packed with sleeper movies that were surprisingly good. So much so far that Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
has already made it to my TOP 10 Best movies of 2009 and been pushed off in the last two weeks. Still, the odds are pretty good it’ll make it to my TOP 20 be the end of 2009.
There isn’t much of note here. Certainly nothing you won’t find on the regular DVD edition other than the basic BD LIVE feature (here’s a clue: Look the movie up on IMDB.com). The additional scenes add little except a better insight into what shallow bitches the bridesmaids were and a good extended scene with Uncle Wayne taking a young Connor out to a bar for his first lothario lesson. Maybe the best scene of the movie.
The “It’s All About Connor”
featurette is really all about Matthew. It’s literally nothing but all the actresses of the film repeatedly telling us how “fun loving”, “charming” and “down to earth” Matthew McConaughey
is. All I could think was “Down to earth…compared to what??” All the other fake Hollywood people they’re used to dealing with? This kind of thing erases a lot of the good will he built up during the film. Plus, I noticed that none of them said a word about “how dedicated he is to his craft.”
Screw that. Skip the special features, enjoy Ghost of Girlfriends Past
. You can purchase it here