×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

A second-rate sex farce proves passably amusing at times, but pic is mostly clunky and vaguely unsavory.

With:
Connor Mead - Matthew McConaughey Jenny Perotti - Jennifer Garner Uncle Wayne - Michael Douglas Paul - Breckin Meyer Sandra - Lacey Chabert Sergeant Volkom - Robert Forster Vondra Volkom - Anne Archer Allison Vandermeersh - Emma Stone Melanie - Noureen DeWulf Brad - Daniel Sunjata Deena the Bridesmaid - Rachel Boston Donna the Bridesmaid - Camille Guaty Denice the Bridesmaid - Amanda Walsh Nadja - Emily Foxler Charlece - Catherine Haena Kim Kiki - Noa Tishby Teenage Connor - Logan Miller Teenage Jenny - Christa B. Allen Ghost of Girlfriends Future - Olga Maliouk

Marriage, rather than Christmas, is the object of scorn for the 21st-century Scrooge who’s forced to take stock in “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” a second-rate sex farce that ponders the weighty question of why a rich, flashy, good-looking New York fashion photographer with hot-and-cold-running babes might prefer not to get hitched. The story of how he got that way proves passably amusing at times, but this New Line hand-me-down to Warner Bros. is mostly clunky and vaguely unsavory. Matthew McConaughey-Jennifer Garner starrer might find a niche as counter-programming amid the imminent “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”/”Star Trek” onslaught, but overall prospects look moderate.

Very much like their previous outing for New Line, the dismaying (and surprisingly commercial) “Four Christmases,” Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s latest script consists of a tour of sorts through the whys and wherefores of the leads’ emotional lives. Both are medium-high-concept comedies that should have been immeasurably better worked out and written than they are, but get by due to their attractive casts and uncouth humor.

The personality of Connor Mead (McConaughey), a cocky, insanely successful Gotham shutterbug, is defined at the outset when he blithely breaks up with three women simultaneously by video conference call just as he’s nailing his latest conquest. Then it’s off to Newport for the dreaded wedding of his younger brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer) — dreaded because the merest thought of marriage sends Connor into paroxysms of horror. He’s not even polite enough to hide his disdain for the sake of his only kin, who lives in baronial splendor at a seaside mansion where most of the action unfolds.

While slurping booze and hitting on the one bridesmaid he hasn’t already shtupped, as well as the bride’s attractive divorced mother (Anne Archer), Connor encounters his long-deceased Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas, channeling Robert Evans), the roguish Don Juan who raised Connor after his parents died and tutored him in the techniques of conquest and the advisability of emotional detachment.

But the old playboy’s phantom has not reappeared to reassure his protege, but rather to warn him that he’s about to be visited by the ghosts of girlfriends past, present and future, and that he’s not going to like what he sees. Thus commences an abridged journey through Connor’s erotic education, a trip that spins on his past with the one woman he let get away, Jenny (Jennifer Garner), who happens to be part of the wedding party.

The flashbacks to the teenage Connor (Logan Miller) being shown the ropes by Douglas’ roue are at least somewhat engaging, even if they could have been carried off with vastly more verbal sophistication and physical elan. Conducting the tour is Connor’s first g.f., the dizzy, frizzy-haired Allison (Emma Stone), who initiates the bashful kid after young Jenny (Christa B. Allen) ditches him for an older jock.

Amusement level slides rapidly from here on, as glimpses of ghosts two and three showing Connor how shallow he is and how awful his future will be are intercut with mostly awful scenes of the wedding weekend falling apart, graced by the continual shrieking of the would-be bride (Lacey Chabert). Denouement is hardly surprising.

Connor’s blithe disregard for his brother, whom he claims to love, and his slovenly behavior run counter to his otherwise sophisticated image, and the character in general is simply too wantonly immature to cotton to on any level. His banter with women, marked by a frankness they find bracing, provokes a certain pleasure, but McConaughey can’t supply the absolute charm that would make the guy appealing despite his noxious behavior.

Garner is OK in the limited role of Connor’s longtime object of desire, while Archer unfortunately gets sidelined after the effective scene in which she lets Connor go on and on about how he’d like to take her upstairs. It’s impossible not to enjoy Douglas with his carefully coiffed hair, dark glasses and recollections of orgies of yesteryear, but he could have knocked this characterization out of the park with better dialogue.

Production values are modest.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Production: A Warner Bros. release of a New Line cinema presentation of a Jon Shestack/Panther production. Produced by Shestack, Brad Epstein. Executive producers, Toby Emmerich, Cale Boyter, Samuel J. Brown, Mark Waters, Jessica Tuckinsky, Marcus Viscidi. Co-producer, Ginny Brewer. Directed by Mark Waters. Screenplay, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor, Deluxe prints, Panavision widescreen), Daryn Okada; editor, Bruce Green; music, Rolfe Kent; production designer, Cary White; art director, Maria Baker; set designers, Cosmas A. Demetriou, Cat Smith; set decorator, Barbara Haberecht; costume designer, Denise Wingate; sound (SDDS/Dolby Digital/DTS), Danny Michael; supervising sound editor, Mark Mangini; re-recording mixers, Terry Porter, Dean A. Zupancic; assistant director, Justin Miller; casting, Marci Liroff, Geralyn Flood. Reviewed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, April 23, 2009. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 100 MIN.

Cast: Connor Mead - Matthew McConaughey Jenny Perotti - Jennifer Garner Uncle Wayne - Michael Douglas Paul - Breckin Meyer Sandra - Lacey Chabert Sergeant Volkom - Robert Forster Vondra Volkom - Anne Archer Allison Vandermeersh - Emma Stone Melanie - Noureen DeWulf Brad - Daniel Sunjata Deena the Bridesmaid - Rachel Boston Donna the Bridesmaid - Camille Guaty Denice the Bridesmaid - Amanda Walsh Nadja - Emily Foxler Charlece - Catherine Haena Kim Kiki - Noa Tishby Teenage Connor - Logan Miller Teenage Jenny - Christa B. Allen Ghost of Girlfriends Future - Olga Maliouk

More Scene

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Tina KnowlesSoul of Nation: Art in

    Jay-Z, Tina Knowles Celebrate New 'Soul of a Nation' Exhibit at Broad Museum

    “This show is so important. I mean, it’s our history — and it’s a very important part of our journey,” Tina Knowles Lawson said about Friday night’s opening of the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 – 1983” at the Broad Museum in DTLA. “I’m just so impressed [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. More Reviews Concert Review: Yoko Ono Earns a Wide-Ranging, All-Female Salute at Disney Hall Film Review: 'Shazam!' Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content