Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Girls like to laugh at men" A Review of "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"

I've seen many versions of “A Christmas Carol” in my life (for my money, “Scrooged” is the best one), but I've never seen one quite like this. First we'll take out Ebenezer Scrooge and replace him with famous photographer and man-whore, Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey: “Contact”, “Sahara”). Next we'll get rid of Christmas and replace it with the wedding of Connor's little brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer: “Robot Chicken”, “King of the Hill”) to Sandra (Lacey Chabert: “Party of Five”, “The Spectacular Spider-Man”). Then we'll get rid of Jacob Marley, and replace him with the man who taught Connor how to be a player, his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas: “Basic Instinct”, “War of the Roses”). Finally we will ditch the Christmas ghosts and replace them with Wayne's first sexual partner, Allison (Emma Stone: “Superbad”), his assistant, Mel (Noureen DeWulf), and the mute Ghost of Girlfriends Future (Olga Maliouk). There, now we have the recipe for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”.

The only thing that the above description leaves out is the actual main plot point, which is the relationship between Connor and his first love, Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner: “Alias”, “Juno”). Jenny and Connor have been friends since they were kids, she even gave him his first camera. They should be together, but in junior high something happened to throw them off course.

At a painfully 80's dance, Connor cannot build up the nerve to ask Jenny to dance, so she goes off to dance, and play tonsil hockey, with one of the jocks. This sends Connor running to his uncle to get his first lesson in how to play the game; he never looks back, even when he gets a chance to make things work with his first love, until now.

This movie is a by the books comedy chick-flick with some amusing twists. It throws up some fun lampshades onto the traditional scenes from “A Christmas Carol”, especially with Allison, the Ghost of Girlfriends Past, who gets the most screen time of any of the ghosts.

One of this film's brightest spots has to be Michael Douglas. Given that the man has spent a good portion of his career making films about the dangers of women, it is funny to see him playing a slimy, despicable, but still utterly likable stereotype in this film. Whether he's driving around in the “Stabbin' Wagon”, or just conjuring up a snowstorm of tissues he steals any scene he is in.

The movie suffers from some major flaws. First off, it features Lacey Chabert who still has one of the most annoying voices in Hollywood (especially if you discount actors who do annoying voices only in character), and also wears a horribly unflattering dress for most of the movie. To her credit, she does fit the character well, and she only has a few lines.

A bigger problem is McConaughey himself. His performance is not that of him playing Connor Mead, but him playing Nicholas Cage playing Connor Mead. I spent the first twenty minutes of this movie trying to figure out who it was McConaughey was trying to be before I figured it out. Now why he would want to play as Nicholas Cage, I do not know, but that's what it was.

Finally, there are utter failures of logic. There's never any explanation as to why Jenny was hanging around the Mead mansion as a kid, no explanation as how Mel can be a ghost without being dead, no reason why Connor tries to prop up a falling cake with a champagne bottle that is not the same size as the gap he's trying to fill, but most of all, never any acknowledgment of the fact that Jenny's ditching Connor at the dance very clearly set him on the path we find him on. I suppose these things should not surprise me though, as this is simply not a deep enough movie for these things to be a major concern.

Overall, Ghosts is a predictable but enjoyable spin of a classic tale, but there's not really anything new here to see. The acting ranges from adequate to good, some of the dialog is really good while other parts fall pretty flat, and there are bigger things to suspend disbelief over than just the existence of ghosts. I suppose the target audience for this movie is going to be all the women whose husbands and boyfriends are off seeing the Wolverine movie.

It's fun, it's cute, but it's just not worth the price of admission. You can catch “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” in theaters nationwide starting May 1st, but I suggest waiting for it to come out on DVD so you can watch it with a box of chocolates by your side and a glass of white wine in your hand.

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