Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Review by Patrick Hodges

Charles Dickens wrote some of the most famous books in history.  Stories like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities are considered, even today, to be literary classics.  But there is perhaps no Dickens story that has been told and re-told more than A Christmas Carol, which as been adapted into movies for the big and small screens many, many times.  However, if he could have seen Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I think he’d be rolling over in his grave right now.

Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is an “A” list photographer:  handsome, arrogant, and the patron saint of misogyny.  He decries marriage, shuns love, and lives a shallow, empty existence going from one sexual conquest to another.  It’s not entirely his fault, of course:  after the death of his parents at a young age, he was taught the proverbial ropes by his rich lothario Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas).

However, while attending the wedding of his younger brother (Breckin Meyer) – and letting his feelings about the subject known to all present – he is visited by his Uncle’s ghost, who tells him he will be taken on a journey through his entire sexual history, starting with childhood, where we see him sweet on a girl named Jenny (who will grow up to be played by Jennifer Garner), the only girl he’s ever truly cared about.

If you’ve seen any of the two dozen or so adaptations of Dickens’ work, you’ll know how the story plays out.  And you will also know how it ends.  And I suppose you can say that Connor Mead is, at heart, as nasty and foul as Ebenezer Scrooge was.  The thing is – and this is really the only thing – Scrooge’s transformation was poignant, genuine and heartfelt.  Nothing about Mead’s “transformation” was even remotely genuine.

On the contrary; nothing about Mead’s character – or indeed, any character in this entire movie – really made you care what happened to them one way or another.  They are, to a one, shallow, one-dimensional things, whose actions and reactions are as fake and shabby as in any trite remake I have ever seen.  The scenes with the ghosts are just plain stupid and played out for comedy’s sake (and they aren’t even funny – even Scrooged had that going for it).  And Jennifer Garner, who I really was expecting a lot better from, spent pretty much the entire running time making pouty faces and spitting her lines out.

There were maybe one or two scenes that actually worked, but ten good minutes out of a hundred is not even close to me being able to recommend it.  You want to see Dickens’ magnum opus?  Watch the animated version coming in winter, starring Jim Carrey, and avoid this piece of garbage.

1 ½ / 5 stars

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