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DVD Review: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

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Written by Pollo Misterioso

I like hybrid stories. When you take a classic and give it a little twist, perhaps what some might call a “make-over”. I like them because they give you a new perspective or sometimes even make the old, new again. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past took the skeleton of the popular tale A Christmas Carol and applied it to a romantic comedy. In theory this was a good idea, unfortunately for the end product it was far from a fabulous outcome.

We are first introduced to Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) a famous photographer that is notorious for all of the women he beds. Even with this kind of reputation, women still throw themselves at him and he loves it. His younger brother is getting married and when he arrives at the rehearsal he is reunited with his old flame, Jenny (Jennifer Garner). Immediately they snidely argue back and forth, revealing their touchy past. That night, when Connor is about to sleep with one of the bridesmaids, he is visited by the ghost of his uncle (Michael Douglas) and told that for his own good three ghosts will visit him. To no surprise, we are shown what happened between Jenny and him and ultimately what could happen to him if he continues with his lifestyle. When he finished with the ghosts, he realizes that he must get Jenny back.

Ghosts tries to sell itself on its star cast. Combining McConaughey and Garner is supposedly a formula for success. I am not denying that they don’t look good together, but they bring as much depth to their characters as a stale puddle. The best characters in this film include the entire supporting cast. I am so happy for great B-roles. Upcoming star Emma Stone, who made her debut in Superbad and stars in the upcoming Zombieland, is absolutely charming in this movie. She plays the ghost from the past, the one that shows Connor his entire dating history and where he started to change into what he is now. I don’t think I have seen anyone play an awkward teenager from the '80s so well—she is commanding, purposefully clumsy, and hilarious.

We find out that it was Connor’s uncle that trained him to treat women the way he does after he gets hurt, on his own account. He is taught that he should never let himself feel for women again. I can’t say that I am very fond of the message that women can be manipulated and used only for sex and that it is ultimately the females’ fault that make men so unhappy. Perhaps I am the only one that feels this way, but it portrays Jenny as a hurt and uptight control freak that has never gotten over her first love. Some might think it’s romantic, but it is just pathetic.

The film loses its charm with its message. Connor is happy with his life—unlike Scrooge from A Christmas Carol—so why does it matter if he changes? There is no redeeming quality to Connor and he seems to be pretty okay with that, therefore his epiphany is unbelievable and forced. This film should have worked; it had the opportunity to mix fantasy and reality in a very light-hearted way. But much like being visited by one of the ghosts, it is like a bad dream that you can’t wake up from.

The DVD only contains an option for Widescreen and Full-Screen viewing, scene selection and language choices.

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