Review: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a pretty typical little romantic comedy."

 

Even as I sat there watching Matt McConaughey rooster his way through the teeming masses of women all set to enjoy the "sex act" with him I still couldn't help but feel things could have been worse. Fool's Gold worse. Two for the Money worse. As it stands, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a pretty typical little romantic comedy. A few laughs, some eye candy, and the always important third act where the audience learns how to love again ... sure, why not?

If you're just beaming in I'll break down the crazy complex plot of the film. Matt M. is a hound dog, nothing but a hound dog, using ladies left and right for their virtue. The women can't resist his debonair ways and jerky tendencies; they are mere blameless putty in his master plan of manipulation. The film opens with Matt shooting (as a photographer, he's not a serial killer or anything) the latest starlet; she immediately falls for him and wants to hop in the sack based solely on his persona and apparent disregard for her personal safety. It's a confidence thing. Anyhow, Matt's brother Breckin Meyer is getting married that weekend so Matt needs to jet off in his Jaguar ... to be a pain in the ass in a new location, I suppose.

If you're thinking "but surely he gets to see the error of his ways" then you've seen a romantic comedy produced by Hollywood in the past thirty years. The "ghost" angle is used, one from Matt's dating past, one from his present, and one from his future. The screenplay doesn't really get into the metaphysical logic of the whole thing, Matt is drunk, and then he's seeing things, and who hasn't been there? A reluctant McConaughey is dragged through the carnage of his past conquests.

Michael Douglas plays the head ghost and deceased uncle of Matt, the guy who taught him all these terrible lessons about how to treat women, and I will definitely give him credit for looking very near death himself. Jennifer Garner is the maid of honor and former kid friend of Matt, the conscience against his philandering ways. McConaughey, Garner, and Meyer are all extremely likable, helping to elevate the material. There are enough one-liners to keep an audience's interest, plus the plot moves along briskly. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past does well enough at avoiding traditional rom-com tropes, instead choosing comedy enough to make it hard to hold a grudge. I also enjoyed the work of Lacey Chabert, but she's had my heart since she asked Bailey if he would quit drinking in Party of Five. Give me more Lacey Chabert in my movies please, and stat.

I would say this is fine for a date night (though it would help if you're a fan of conversations about snuggling) as the material is innocuous and light enough to leave very little to take umbrage with. No, it's not a game-changer, and no, you won't remember much of this film 30 minutes after you watch it, but there's something to be said for a film with lesser ambitions that avoids blatant missteps. There's a reason Matt McConaughey keeps getting cast as the male romantic lead: It's because he's got it down to a formula.

Grade: C+