The message of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past past is, “Don’t be a jerk.” That’s (not) deep. Maybe a better message would have been, “Matthew McConaughey, stop doing this to your career.” That seems far more fitting.
This is a disastrous romantic comedy, one that is predictable from the opening frames. Will Connor (McConaughey) end up with the girl he grew up with? Will he have to make a zany trip to find her before she leaves his life forever? Will the 12-year actually be served alcohol at the sleazy bar?
This movie condones eight graders drinking with their grandparents (and bartenders serving them), and answers yes to all of the other questions. It is lifeless, taking the concept of A Christmas Carol to help turn around a womanizing photographer, making him the clean cut nice guy every woman in the audience wants him to be.
Maybe, just maybe, if the film had an ounce of wit or originality, it could have been self-depreciating. The concept of past girlfriends coming back as ghosts (and apparently dying at a young age… creepy) to “cure” Connor of his apparent faults so he can finally be with the girl he loves goes nowhere. However, it is sure to cue the “awws” from the largely female audience.
Characters, from Jennifer Garner’s Jenny to Lacey Chabert’s Sandra are terrible characterizations. These people belong in a sitcom, with over-exaggerated performances fit for a children’s film. McConaughey plays the same character he does in all these dreadful comedies, and is only allowed one bright moment of physical comedy involving a wedding cake.
All of the events in Girlfriends Past apparently happen over the course of two days, amazingly turning around a lifelong man whore into the perfect potential husband in about 48 hours.
This sounds like an attempt to write an episode of the TV series Two and a Half Men, with Charlie Sheen’s character finally realizing the error of his ways and settling down. That’s where this pathetic story belongs, crammed into a half hour so the agony of the entire concept doesn’t have time to settle in.
Not only is the movie terrible, it looks the part too. Girlfriends Past contains the ugliest bronzed flesh tones yet seen on the format. It is impossible to know what happened to cause this, although it would have to be a director call at the digital intermediate stage. Everyone is glistening with an unnatural tan that makes them look more alien than human.
They’re so tinted, they tend to bleed, wiping detail from countless shots. Softness is rather common, although some fine detail does escape the clutches of the bronze job. Black crush is a major problem from the start, although it does clear itself up in the second half. Film grain is left alone, with the benefit is minimal.
Girlfriends Past offers a clean TrueHD track that is perfectly acceptable given the nature of the film. The opening rehearsal dinner is lively with activity in all channels. All parties, including a flashback prom sequence, are likewise active.
Music delivers the only bass, and is crisp. Dialogue is consistently audible regardless of how the characters are speaking.
All of the extras are a waste of disc space. Recreating the Past, Imagining the Future is one of those ridiculous featurettes that recounts the plot of the film for about eight minutes, followed by the fluff piece on Matthew McConaughey titled It’s All About Connor. The Legends, the Lessons, and the Ladies is a brief look at McConaughey’s and Michael Douglas’ characters, likewise padded and fluffy. BD-Live support is generic, while a set of deleted scenes do nothing to enhance this farce.