GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST
A Mixed Bag of Love and Sex
Release Date: May 01, 2009
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures/Time Warner
Director: Mark Waters
Producer: Jon Shestack and Brad Epstein
Writer: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Address Comments To:Toby Emmerich, President/COO
New Line Cinema
(A Time Warner Subsidiary)
116 North Robertson Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 854-5811
Fax: (310) 354-1824
The story opens with Connor Mead (played by Matthew McConaughey), a successful celebrity photographer and handsome playboy who desires nothing more than to live and make love freely with no strings attached. Connor sees this lifestyle as the solution to avoiding the hurt and pain that relationships can bring, a lesson taught to him by his Uncle Wayne (played by Michael Douglas), a hard-partying, ladies man and Connor’s mentor.
During the wedding festivities of his soon to be married brother, Paul, Connor’s cynical attitude goes just a step too far as he needlessly bashes marriage as “an archaic and oppressive institution” and love as a myth equal to the Easter Bunny during the wedding rehearsal dinner. Connor’s careless words confirm the expectations of his childhood friend, former girlfriend, and current bridesmaid Jenny (played by Jennifer Garner) that including Connor in the celebration might just ruin the entire wedding.
Just when it seems like Connor is doomed to annihilate the happiness of the wedding party, he gets a shocking visit from his late Uncle Wayne, still as vulgar as ever, who urgently warns him, “Don’t waste your life like I did.” He tells Connor that for his own good, three “ghosts” of his past, present and future girlfriends will visit him. As the journey unfolds, he is given a new perspective on the various relationships throughout his life, with one in particular – his relationship with Jenny.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST is a large-budget movie containing some excellent production values such as the overall storyline, witty lines with timely deliveries, and the acting by chick flick pros Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner. Sadly, the movie contains many problematic elements regarding the production and the movie’s content.
First, the second ghost who visits him, the Ghost of Girlfriends Present, is actually the spirit of his assistant from work who is neither dead, nor has ever been his girlfriend. In response to Connor’s surprise at seeing her, she tells him that she has been sent to help him because he does not have a present girlfriend and she, being his assistant, is the most consistent girl in his life at the moment. This makes no sense whatsoever and the fact that she isn’t even dead makes it even weirder; it’s as though the ghostly or spiritual side of herself has separated from her physical body to impart a message to Connor.
Second, as Uncle Wayne continually appears to Connor throughout the movie, the impression is given that he is still carousing and carrying on as a ghost as he would do on earth if he were still human. He does not seem to be suffering any eternal consequences for the way he lived his life on earth.
Third, during the younger years of Connor’s life as he is trying to get Jenny to have sexual relations with him, she sees him for the player he is and won’t allow herself to be seduced by his charms. Jenny tells him that she wants to be wooed and pursued, which he acquiesces to doing. Her wise decision is a commendable portion of the storyline and it almost seems like the filmmakers might actually make a good point with it, but alas, this is ultimately ruined when she eventually jumps into bed with him after a few weeks of wooing, and the relationship ends in heartbreak and disappointment.
Contrary to the problematic elements, there is one big redemptive element in that Connor Mead’s outlook on life and love and marriage changes throughout the course of his journey. In fact, there are a couple of scenes toward the end of the movie in which he espouses his new perspective, which surprisingly contains many Christian elements, although his redemption is devoid of God. He says that love is something very powerful and out of it comes forgiveness for there is no guarantee that you won’t get hurt or experience pain by loving someone, but it is worth the risk and it is better than walking away from love. In his wedding toast, he says that true happiness comes from caring more about people, not less, and that love is about giving your all to everyone without requiring anything in return.
Although MOVIEGUIDE® would like to recommend GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST due to these very commendable elements, extreme caution is advised due to the filmmakers use of cheap sexual material, alcohol use, a negative role model, light pagan and occult elements with a reference to karma, and the promotion of pre-marital sex. Please read the content section for further information. There are much better romantic comedies to see, such as RUNAWAY BRIDE with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST is a large-budget movie containing some excellent production values, including a strong structure, witty lines with timely deliveries and good acting by chick flick pros Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner. Sadly, the movie contains many problematic elements that overshadow the redemptive theme of Connor’s changed outlook on love and marriage. Despite the positive premise, the movie contains many crude sexual references and plenty of foul language. There is also a drug reference and a reference to the false religious idea of karma.