GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST

Directed by Mark Waters. US. 2009.


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Emai

I dont mind Matthew McConaughey; he is quite a good comedy actor but he has been a terrible slump where his abs do more acting than his face.  Before we went to see this film i had a bet with my girlfriend that he would have his shirt off within 2 minutes of the start; either having sex or getting out of the shower. She said 5 minutes. She likes Matthew, she won the bet; shows you what I know.


Critcs and commenters are not kind to movies like this; and i can understand why. In this current economic climate where the super-rich are hated more than ever, this film has a lead character, Connor Mead a leading fashion photographer; extremely wealthy who goes to his brother Paul's (Breckin Meyer) wedding in their uncle's upstate country mansion.  Mead is a misogynist who sleeps with women briefly and treats that as long-term, while the love of his life Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner) is right under his nose but he missed his chance because of his fear of 'spooning'.  On the eve of the wedding, Mead is visited by his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) a renowned lothario and Mead's teacher in the ways of women; he has been dead for some time and warns Mead to change his ways or he will end up like him - old, alone and unhappy.


Yes, it is a rip-off of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' and the location of the mansion in a snow blizzard is the only link to Christmas (the film was simultaneously released in May on both sides of the Atlantic).  The three ghosts are Emma Stone ('Superbad') as the past (and Mead's first physical conquest ahead of Jenny) who shows him the lake of sex he enjoyed; his secretary Nadja (Noureen Dewulf) is the ghost of present who shows how his mere presence is disrupting the wedding and the ghost of yet-to-be is silent yet a runway model (who Mead hits on) and shows him his inevitable finality unless he changes his ways.


There are moments of hilarity, involving Mead's struggle with a cake and the best role is reserved for Sandra (Lacey Chabert - 'Mean Girls') who as Mead's soon-to-be sister-in-law is a highly strung bride who is about to freak out from the stress and her reaction to said cake is not a banshee scream but a scream saying here is a comedic actress to take notice of.

But the problem with this film in relation to other recent American comedies ('Role Models', 'Knocked Up') is McConaughey does not attempt to make us pity or sympathise with Mead; he is a complete a-hole who really does not get it. I suppose neither did Ebenezzer Scrooge but Mead's question to the boy after he wakes up ('Young man is this Christmas?' 'No, its Saturday you idiot'), the boy actually calls him what we are thinking.


Unlike say 1930s golden romantic comedies/the comedies of remarriage with Cary Grant etcetra, those films had well-off characters yes but those you sympathised with, and they questioned gender roles in society. Here Mead breaks up with three girls at the same time by conference call - women are nothing but objects to Mead to use and throwaway, like a camera or a bottle of JW Blue Label (nice whiskey he drinks like water).  The ending is cod as well, Mead and Jenny dance in the snow; no wedding, no fanfare, just a dance. The ending feels rushed and thrown away much like the way Mead uses women.


A missed opportunity from the writers of 'Four Christmases', 'Rebound' (a decent Martin Lawrence vehicle) and the upcoming 'The Hangover' (released in June, US). And whatever happened to Mark Waters, the director has gone on an reverse evolution cycle - his calling card(s) where 'Freaky Friday' and 'Mean Girls' with Lindsay Lohan, then came a dire 'Just Like Heaven' with Reese Witherspoon and now this.  He reminds me of the plight of Andy Tennant who did great work with 'Fools Rush In' (one of the most underrated 90s rom-coms, that no-one has seen) and 'Hitch', then he went under with 'Fools Gold' with McConaughey.

It seems that for most people, the cinematic work of and collaborated with Mr. McConaughey will haunt a lot of people for years to come. 
Jamie Garwood

 
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