Sunday, 24 April 2011

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Lowdown: Ghosts from the past, present & future change a non believer's opinion of love.
I am ignorant of most things in this world, and one of those things that I am ignorant of is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I've heard stories about it but I never read or watched a film based on this story, which means that a lot of what Ghost of Girlfriends Past's ammo is wasted on me. That is because this film takes the Christmas Carol story and adopts it: instead of an unhappy guy who doesn't think much of Christmas we have ourselves a guy who doesn't believe in love; in both cases our guys are exposed to ghosts from the past, present and future who teach them how wrong they are.
The next thing you need to know about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is that this is a Matthew McConaughey film. Now that you know that fact there is not much else I need to add: a McConaughey film would automatically be an American mainstream production which would automatically imply this is another predictable romantic comedy oozing of sickly conservative values. On our hands here we have a guy, a successful fashion photographer guy who gets laid with a different supermodel girl every night and who breaks up with his girls on a Skype conference call arranged by his secretary. He doesn't believe in love nor marriage, and he is very open about this disbelief; so much so that when his brother invites him to his wedding our McConaughey tries to convince the brother of his wrongdoings.
Yet when McConaughey arrives at the scene of the wedding he encounters two things. The first is Jennifer Garner, who was "his" girl back when they were both 12 but for reasons unclear now hates his guts; the second are the ghosts. From then on you know what's going to happen.
The silly thing about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is that the film would have worked much better if it was to lose its preachings of the importance of the wedding institution and of love (in that particular way "love" is currently interpreted in Western culture). The film is way too silly there and it doesn't need to be: I know enough people who love to love but are just afraid of commitments who act every way like McConaughey does; why take the film to unnecessarily annoying extremes?
I will clarify my point. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a silly and predictable film, but there's a but. We rented it on a Wednesday evening, looking for a dead easy to watch film that would make us feel good and won't encumber our fatigued brains much. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, with all of its issues, delivered well in that department. If you can stand the preaching I would even recommend it.
Best scene: The guy running the ghosts' show is the ghost of McConaughey's playboy uncle, played by Michael Douglas. And what an excellent job does Douglas do! It's obvious the guy enjoyed every second of his part. I wouldn't say the scene in which he teaches a teen version of McConaughey how to hit on women is priceless, but it's definitely entertaining.
Overall: Middle of the road at 2.5 out of 5 stars, but worth watching under the right circumstances.

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