"A Mixed Bag of Love and Sex"
If you’ve seen A CHRISTMAS CAROL and more recent movies like 13 GOING ON 30 and JUST LIKE HEAVEN, then you’ll understand what GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST is all about. Sadly, the few funny moments, coupled with the movie’s ultimately moral message of love and marriage, do little to make up for the unnecessary abundance of sexual material and the neatly concealed message that love leaves room for premarital sex.
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.
(PaPa, BB, C, OO, FR, Ho, LL, V, SS, Ho, N, AA, D, M) Strong mixed pagan worldview with main character living life of a playboy and partier, which eventually changes, but there are other characters who share this view and continue to practice it, mixed with a strong moral, Christian worldview with a positive emphasis on marriage and main character states that love is giving without expecting anything in return, happiness comes from caring more about people, forgiveness is a result of love, and even though there is a risk of getting hurt by loving someone, it is ultimately worth it, plus main character says “thank God” three times and occult elements where ghost appears to man telling him not to waste his life and ghosts of dead people and spirits appear to main character, a minor character makes a reference to the false religious concept of karma, and some homosexual references and jokes; 14 obscenities (no “F” words) and 10 profanities (mostly “oh, God” and 1 “GD”); some comic violence includes woman slams man’s head into steering wheel, woman slaps man, car crashes through glass, man crashes car in snow embankment, man gets punched in the face; strong sexual content includes abundant sexual references and material including women in skimpy lingerie pose for photo, women in revealing, practically transparent underwear, woman poses for photo in sexy underwear, woman makes out with man leading to implied fornication, groomsmen are in awe of main character because of his sexual exploits, woman makes threat to cut off man’s private part, man makes reference to orgies, man puts the moves on woman but she sees through his ploy and calls it a cheap sexual innuendo, woman comments that a man is “not really married” unless he has children, man tells man on phone to “screw” himself, man touches woman’s breast thinking she is a ghost, man makes sexual advances on older woman, man asks woman what her stance is on casual sex and woman says she is for it, bridesmaids continually look for opportunities to fornicate during weekend bridal festivities, woman says bridesmaid will only be “partially satisfied” by man, ghost makes sexual moaning sounds in man’s bed, woman makes sexual moaning sounds in man’s bed, middle-school-aged girls say that boy wants to make out with girl using tongue, man says that middle-school-aged boy used to get “excited” (different word actually used in movie) in the boys’ gym shower, brief reference made to STDs, implied fornication between two teenagers, girl compares man’s first sexual experience to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, implied fornication between man and woman, reference is made to 20 years of foreplay, ghosts of women remind man about his sexual exploits with them, five instances of various crass words used to refer to sex, bridesmaid says she wants to “do” main character, reference made to woman’s sexual encounter with a celebrity, man says he is woman’s designated wedding sex, ghost crudely says women like to do sex, in one scene it’s implied that condoms fall from the sky illustrating the number of times the main character has had to use them, bridesmaids corner main character to get him to do sex with them but when he refuses they set their sights on the groomsmen, older ghost makes sexual advances toward other ghosts (one of which is 16 years old) and makes lewd comments, one lewd, potty humor reference, and four brief homosexual references with a women who has had a sex-change operation; women wear revealing lingerie for photo shoot, women wear transparent underwear and backsides are visible, cleavage depicted; alcohol use depicted with women drinking shots, people drink wine at wedding dinner party, man guzzles one drink after another to drown out the happiness of others around him, ghost drinks alcohol, man drinks in bar and also orders drink for underage boy who tries it, ghost offers to buy man a drink, man desperately steals wedding day wine to drink; one reference to cocaine; and, brief discussion of divorce, man cheated on woman at beginning of their relationship, negative role model acting as parent to young boy, and even though love and marriage are extolled, pre-marital sex is not rebuked.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST stars opens Matthew McConaughey as Connor, a successful celebrity photographer and handsome playboy who desires 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, a hard-partying, ladies man and Connor’s mentor. His cynical attitude toward love and marriage almost ruins his brother’s wedding festivities, but he is by three ghosts and spirits who take him on journey through his past relationships. Eventually, he comes to realize that love and marriage are worth having after all.
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.