Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

I assume that Matthew McConaughey goes out of his way to star in the most pedestrian romantic comedies he can possibly find.  That’s the only explanation I have for why all of his romcoms run together and feel like the same script over and over.  It’s not that they’re bad films, it’s just that I feel like I’ve seen them before.  I can’t say I was excited to see this one, but on the surface, I thought that maybe it would offer something different that what we’ve seen him do before.  Obviously, that proved to not be the case.

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In GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST, McConaughey plays Connor Mead, a cynical playboy determined to live a single life and enjoy the freedom that comes with it.  But when he travels back home for the weekend to attend his little brother’s wedding, he encounters Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner), his lost love.  By some strange coincidence, Connor is visited by three ghosts that take him through the past, present and future, where Connor can see the damaging effect his philandering ways is having on himself and brother.  Through the course of the evening, Connor learns that a life without true love is not a life worth living.  Or something like that.

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Obviously, there’s a little bit of a supernatural element to the film and if you can’t handle that, you might as well skip over this one.  In the vein of WHAT WOMEN WANT, the supernatural element is there to teach the character a lesson that he may not otherwise have learned.  But unlike Mel Gibson in WHAT WOMEN WANT, McConaughey is not his usual charming self and even when he’s “discovering” himself, he doesn’t appeal to the audience.  Throw in a lifeless performance from Jennifer Garner and average turns from the supporting cast and you’re left with a very average, uninspiring romcom.  Thankfully, the film knew what it was and therefore, it didn’t try to be anything other than a lighthearted romantic comedy.

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Surprisingly enough, the performance I enjoyed the most came from Michael Douglas, who played Uncle Wayne.  Uncle Wayne is the dead uncle that guided Connor through his ghostly encounters.  But Douglas gave an otherwise cheesy character a spark that made his scenes very enjoyable.  They would have been better served having Uncle Wayne guide Connor through each stage and just done away with the other three ghosts (even though I did like Emma Stone as the titular Ghost of Girlfriend’s Past).  Uncle Wayne was a fun character and the film could have used more of him.

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When you go into a McConaughey romantic comedy, you should know by now what you’re getting.  McConaughey has done so many of these that he phones them in and cashes the paycheck.  In the past, what has saved him and these kind of films is his natural charm and charisma.  In fact, one of my favorite films of his is EDTV, which he singlehandedly made enjoyable.  But either he’s getting older or that charisma isn’t as easy for him anymore because he seemed to have lost it in GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST.


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