You, you and you, I'll have: Matthew
McConaughey (far right) as Connor Mead), with Jennifer Garner in blue dress
(center) as Jenny Perotti, in "Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past", directed
by Mark Waters. (Photo: New Line Cinema)
Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
Build Me Down Buttercup: Ratcheting Down A
Player's Street Cred, In Three Ghosts Or Less
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
For all the rumors and perceptions about their lives on and off screen, Matthew
McConaughey and Michael Douglas are tailor-made for "Ghosts Of Girlfriends
Past", an empty-headed comedy directed by Mark Waters. Mr. McConaughey
plays Connor Mead, a man with notches in his belt to display when it comes to
women. He beds them breaks up with them and has not even the courtesy of
holding the lady tight following an evening interlude. Connor, a magazine
photographer, could have
been given a nastier name or phallic pseudonym -- Connor Meat, Connor Head, or
one even more crass and vulgar:
Con Her Meat, for as graphic and offensive as that will sound to some reading
this, the art of the con into bedding a woman is what Mr. McConaughey's
character has down to a science. To use a grammatically risky turn of
sports phrase, for Connor women isn't everything, they're the only thing. Mr. McConaughey's similarly vacuous
surfer-dude hard-bodied pretty-boy big screen persona has come in for some major ribbing over
the last few years ("Fool's Gold",
"Failure To Launch" among others).
Still, in "Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past", the actor's Connor character is being taught a lesson from one of an infinite harem of past
girlfriends (or pit stops) in ghost format. Connor has dumped and now it's
his time to be dumped on, and he is, sometimes spectacularly, other times not
As for Mr. Douglas, he of the supposedly sex-addicted past -- on screen if not
off -- ("Fatal Attraction", "Basic Instinct", "Disclosure")
-- has a whale of a
time as Connor's uncle, playboy emeritus Wayne Mead, the man who taught Connor
everything he knows about the opposite sex. As played breezily by Mr.
Douglas, Wayne's ghostly presence is as entertaining as the character is
misogynistic, and yet ironically Mr. Douglas, who in one scene looks ready to
channel Gene Kelly, is the one of the only enlivening people in this canned film replete
with stereotypes about women and the "bridezilla" types who wait in the wings
just around the corner. Robert Forster is also terrific as Sergeant Volkom,
in several hilarious moments. And Mr. Douglas' "Fatal Attraction" wife
Anne Archer plays Vonda Volkom. Guess who tries to seduce her?
Mr. McConaughey, so good in "Tropic Thunder", doesn't stretch much farther than
a baby reaching for a prized toy with his performance here as Mr. Mead.
Like the character David Aames of Cameron Crowe's "Vanilla Sky", Connor Mead
skates through life without a care in the world, an unthinking, unfeeling man
whose being exists only for hedonistic adventures. It's not so much that
Connor's commitment phobic -- he despises the idea in ruthlessly cynical
fashion, with alcohol, not dogs, as his best friend. "Ghosts Of
Girlfriends Past", which opened in the U.S. and Canada last weekend, doesn't
have the depth or the rougher and more complex edges of Mr. Crowe's 2001 film,
but there are echoes of its (ghostly) presence.
The film's leading woman is underrepresented -- Jennifer Garner getting lead
billing with her male counterpart as Jenny Perotti, a childhood sweetheart of
Connor who knows everyone of his weaknesses. Like an Achilles Heel, she
has Connor pegged, but Ms. Garner is on screen for about 30 total minutes -- and
that may be a generous estimate. "Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past", as weakly
written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, reveals a shallow analysis of men and
women even as it purports to expose its leading man as exactly that -- shallow.
Breckin Meyer plays Paul, Connor's brother, who looks up to Connor but is
destined to avoid his player status as he readies to get married to the neurotic
Sandra (Lacey Chabert). Their brother relationship is distant, as distant
as the film itself. "Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past" is the latest of the
Hollywood romantic comedies released this year to make the fairer sex look like
one-dimensionally cold, heartless and crazed creatures and its men look either
fearful, stupid or the shallowest cads this side of the Jack Nicholson
characters of "As Good As It Gets" or "The Witches Of Eastwick". Mr.
Waters film doesn't even take the chances that "Eastwick" or even Quentin
Tarantino's "Death Proof" take. Mr. Tarantino's films have strong,
resolute women characters, even if they are sometimes overmatched on a male
playing field; in "Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past", the women are present but
completely out to lunch.
With: Emma Stone and Daniel Sunjata.
"Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association
Of America for sexual content throughout, some language and a drug reference.
The film's running time is one hour and 40 minutes.
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