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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

When I saw Ghosts of Girlfriends Past I thought about the idea of seeing the ghosts of my own past boyfriends and it brought a warm smile to my face, mostly because in order for my former boyfriends to be ghosts that means the rotten bastards would all have to be dead. As you can tell, I am a sentimental woman and one prone to holding dear memories of all those guys who treated me so badly in the years before I met my perfect husband. May they rest in pieces.

It is true that, like Matthew McConaughey’s character Connor Mead in
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I did have an *ahem* active social life in my younger life, but unlike Connor, I tended not to end my love affairs as tidily as he seems to be able to do. For those not in the know, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is the flimsy story of a wealthy Playboy, man-about-town, bon vivant man-slut (McConaughey; Fool’s Gold) who stumbles into the most screwed-up weekend of his life, taking a nod from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, with his dead Uncle Wade (Michael Douglas; Beyond a Reasonable Doubt) leading his hedonistic nephew on an outlandish night through meetings with not just The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past but also those of his Present and Future. All of this happens at the during the get-together prior to the weekend wedding of his younger brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer; Corporate Affairs) to ϋber-wench Sandra (Lacey Chabert; Reach for Me).

In Sandra’s defense, I should say that, yes, she truly is a bitch, but if you were marrying into this
family and you realized that the sibling you were getting was Breckin Meyer instead of Matthew McConaughey you might be a tad crabby too. I don’t know what casting queens Geralyn Flood (Freakin' Zombies, Man!) and Marci Liroff (The Spiderwick Chronicles) were smoking when they came up with the idea of matching this duo as brothers, but there is no way in the universe these two could have ever burst forth from the same strains of DNA unless Dad wore radioactive tightie-whities between Connor’s birth and Paul’s conception. This isn’t to say Meyer isn’t cute as a bug; it’s just to say that next to McConaughey he pretty much looks like one. I’m sorry, Breckin. I love you and do think you are a cutie-patootie, but it is true.

So marriage-hating Connor blows into the family manor and manages to fairly well put both feet in
his mouth from the moment he arrives by denouncing everything the weekend is about, embarrassing himself and alienating not just his brother and future sister-in-law and her family, but, more importantly, the one girl from his past he has ever really cared about, Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner; Juno). Jenny is on hand as one of Sandra’s bridesmaids, and she can’t believe how jaded and hard-hearted the boy she grew-up with has become. As these movies go, naturally, there are flashbacks of cute kids being adorable and syrupy in soft-focused moments through filtered colors just screaming TRUE LOVE that evolve from age six up through some insanely unrealistic moments of a “youthful” McConaughey and Garner supposedly playing themselves at around twenty. Um. They have software now that can de-age actors. It was used effectively in X-Men: The Last Stand to show us younger versions of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. It really could have helped here if anyone cared enough to take any of this seriously, but I don’t think even director Mark Waters (Just Like Heaven) had his heart in this one too much.

Michael Douglas waltzes through his role as if he really is dead, or certainly sloshed out of his mind through most of the production. He seems to be channeling Dean Martin circa 1974, in search of the Golddiggers, unaware that nobody who goes to the movies these days will even get that reference. He spends most of the movie in the men’s room, which I found peculiar since this was supposed to be his home (before he kicked the bucket anyway) and I don’t know of any private residences that feature gender specific restrooms ~ and men’s rooms with multiple urinals and stalls. Oh, those idle rich! And I was willing to settle for a bidet.

The only one who really seems to be enjoying herself here is Emma Stone (
The House Bunny) as Allison Vandermeersh, the actual
Ghost of Girlfriends Past, a frizzy-haired, orthodontically-challenged poorly dressed wallflower from the mid-‘80s, who lets it all hang out as she drags Connor through a grizzly look at his seemingly never-ending string of bad relationships over the past twenty-five years. Connor’s assistant, Melanie (Noureen DeWulf; Killer Pad) steps in as the Ghost of Girlfriends Present and she is actually kind of a sad character because she is a beautiful woman, so it is hard to comprehend why Connor, who jumps on anything with a vagina and a pulse (and the pulse is optional as long as the body is still warm) wouldn’t be putting the moves on her, which is her major complaint. Other than the fact that she is a woman of color, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for his ignoring her, and nobody’s about to go there so writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (Four Christmases) go for the supposedly safe joke “I thought you were a Lesbian”, even though it’s the most obvious answer. Maybe those same casting queens should have read the script and thought about whether it was a good idea to use this part to fill their requisite “minority” role. As the Ghost of Christmas, er, I mean Ghost of Girlfriend Future, Emily Foxler (Grizzly Park) is blessedly silent. All she has to do is look like the class mime and float around in a chiffon gown looking as brain dead as Sally in Tim Burton’s 1993 stop-action classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Anybody going to see this KNOWS before they walk in the door that no matter how big of a hole Connor is he and Jenny are going to get together before the end of the movie, so the question is how big of a stretch is it going to be? Let’s just say only Joan Rivers’ face has been stretched this far as survived (if you call what Joan looks like now “survival”).

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a silly little reminder that Matthew McConaughey used to be an actor. Remember A Time to Kill, Amistad, U-571, Frailty, and, even as late as 2006, We Are Marshall? But for the most part Matty skates through his movies with nothing more to rely on than his dimples and a tan, like a lot of my ex-boyfriends made it through life before their looks went, their hair fell out, their bellies went soft, and those dimples crept up and became part of bigger crags that lined their sagging, wrinkled faces. Maybe that’s even better than them becoming ghosts. We may have ended ugly, but they’ve stayed that way, and that, Darlings, is the best revenge!

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