'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past'
(Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2009 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: McConaughey plays a womanizer named Conner Mead far from settling down who is forced to take a Christmas Carol-type journey through girlfriends of his past, present and future while attending his brother’s wedding weekend. Jenny (Garner) is the childhood sweetheart and longstanding object of his affection. Will he be able to grow up and admit his love for Jenny before the weekend is over, or will he continue his man-whore ways and lose her forever?
DVD Verdict: It's a cleverly comedic twist on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and surprisingly entertaining even though it's obviously a vehicle for Matthew McConaughey to make female audiences swoon. It's also the perfect movie to open against X-Men Origins: Wolverine - anyone not interested in the action-packed mutant extravaganza will surely take comfort in the harmlessly pleasant romantic humor of this simple tale of moral redemption.
Fashion photographer Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is a typical ladies' man and playboy - the kind of jerk who breaks up with three women simultaneously via a computer conference call. And yet the girls love him, clamoring to be the next one-night-stand. He's invited by his brother Paul (Breckin Meyer) to Paul and Sandra's (Lacey Chabert) wedding, against the advice of Connor's childhood sweetheart Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner) and everyone familiar with his scandalous ways. She once had hopes for him, but Connor didn't want his meaningless but exciting short-lived sexual relationships to be hindered by feelings. He's like the Tin Man - born without a heart.
Mead owes his attitude primarily to his mentor Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), a now deceased lady-killer legend who notoriously hosted mind-numbing, clothing optional, week-long orgies in his house - he also invented the word "MILF." Through the careful tutoring of Wayne, Connor has grown up to believe love is a magical comfort food for the weak and uneducated - forever condemning a fruitful relationship with Jenny. But his theories on love are destined to change when the ghost of Uncle Wayne returns to warn him of his wicked ways, along with visits by the Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Present and Future.
The conclusion may be terribly contrived, and the plot completely predictable in its unwavering course of correcting a tarnished soul and building Connor to be contemptible in his efforts to paint love as a corrupt and hateful institution (he mean-spiritedly claims that the power of a relationship lies within whoever cares less), but the film isn't afraid to poke fun at itself.
At times it's almost self-aware that it's a movie, taking themes less than seriously, and several of the purely comedic performances, including Emma Stone as the Ghost of Girlfriends Past and Douglas as womanizer Wayne, are hilariously delightful. It may be a Matthew McConaughey movie, but it's a little more open to general audiences than his usual women-only mindless mush. [JM] This is a Widescreen presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but sadly (and weirdly) does not come with any Special Features.
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