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Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Genre Romance
Year: 2009
 
Review:
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a predictable, formulaic, high concept romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey (Failure to Launch) and Jennifer Garner (13 Going On 30) and directed by Mark Waters (Just Like Heaven). The cast have seen better days and at best Ghosts of Girlfriends Past would have measured up to 6 out-of-ten. McConaughey is cast as Connor Mead, a famous photographer and womanizer, while Jennifer Garner is the high school sweetheart and one that got away. This is mind-numbing entertainment that relies on your knowledge of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge and the step-by-step progression of a standard romcom, complete with one-liners. The film’s high concept sees Connor re-evaluate his past relationships in the hope of having one last chance at love. He’s a first-class a**hole and the worst part is that he knows it. His invitation to be best man at his brother’s estate wedding is a shoe-in for some casual sex, and he jeopardises the occasion without even trying to. It’s a mixture of slapstick and situational comedy that is low-browed when it comes to wit and persuades the occasional laugh. If you’ve seen wedding romantic comedies and high concept romcoms, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past will come as no surprise. Michael Douglas checks in for a more sophisticated rendition of Beetlejuice, while Robert Forster adds some light relief as a former military man turn preacher.

One could say that Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was predestined to become a middling romantic comedy. The concept was probably sold to the studios in one line, something like… *spoiler* “so a rich, chauvinistic photographer falls head-over-heels in love with his high school sweetheart at his brother’s wedding after taking a (mis)guided tour of his dating history brings a change of heart”. Unfortunately for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, successful romantic comedies require more originality. The direct transition from money in Scrooge’s case to love in Connor’s is simplistic. The gimmick works as a change in genre, but doesn’t have the sincerity and genuine cockle-warming humanity of A Christmas Carol. The movie is so busy trying to be funny, romantic, dramatic and fantastic - that it falls into the jack-of-all-trades, master of none category. If the film-makers had planned on creating a middling romantic comedy, they succeeded with a side order of cheese.

McConaughey is becoming as generic as a Ken doll with his leading actor splurges into romantic comedy. He’s got good timing, but he can no longer become a character without the audience integrating all his past roles in movies like: How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Fool’s Gold, Failure to Launch and The Wedding Planner. Jennifer Garner gets to grips with her naive girl next-door Jenny, yet it just seems like a matter of time before everything falls into place. The game of love comes across as a synthetic realisation that selfishness doesn’t last a lifetime. Mark Waters directed The Spiderwick Chronicles and there’s a dab of horror comedy with the flying bed and creepy Uncle Wayne character, however this just makes Ghosts of Girlfriends Past seem like its trying to branch out in another direction. The overall feel is that this romcom is overly familiar and spreads itself too thin. The fantasy comedy of A Christmas Carol has been done better, and the past, present, future gimmick worked better in 13 Going On 30. While Ghosts of Girlfriends Past doesn’t leave any distinct memories, it will deliver the 100 minutes of respite you’re probably craving. Just think of it as movie junk food.

The bottom line: Likable.

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