Sunday 7 November 2021

Movie Review: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past (2009)

A romantic comedy with a fantasy twist, Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past borrows from Charles Dickens on the way to predictable destinations. 

In New York City, Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is a celebrity fashion photographer, enjoying a hedonistic lifestyle, plenty of sex, and no commitments. He travels to the lavish New England estate of his deceased Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), where Connor's younger brother Paul (Breckin Meyer) is getting married to Sandra (Lacey Chabert). The wedding party includes doctor Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner), Connor's one true love from childhood and the only woman who punctures his Lothario act.

Connor does all he can to sabotage Paul's wedding, including delivering drunken tirades about the futility of love, hitting on Sandra's mother Vonda (Anne Archer), and exposing Paul's past infidelities. But then he is visited by the ghost of Uncle Wayne and the ghost of his first sexual partner Allison (Emma Stone), who guide him on a tour of his past, present and future to demonstrate the consequences of his actions.

A stellar cast and sense of flighty fun elevate Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past beyond the mundane. Co-writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore deliver a polished script maximizing concept enjoyment and packed with sharp humour, and the stars do the rest, diving into their characters with committed playfulness. The scenes with a ditzy Emma Stone whizzing Connor around his past on a time-traveling bed are a particular delight.

As usual with rom-coms, the peripherals help make or break the experience, and here director Mark Waters has plenty to work with. Wealthy and fun-loving Uncle Wayne was the perfectly enticing bad example on Connor's early life, setting him on a path of selfish gratification. The thorny dynamic between married-couple-to-be Paul and Sandra is a source of steady laughs, as are Sandra's parents "Sarge" (Robert Forster) and the cougar Vonda.

The necessary moments of pathos also register, the brotherly bond between Connor and Paul deployed to good effect, and the eternal but often denied passion between Connor and Jenny an underpinning for both their lives.

Despite the welcome streak of quality, typical genre pitfalls are also on full display. There is never any doubt about the outcome, and Connor's transformation abruptly arrives just in time for the requisite wrapping up of all loose ends. Obvious go-to devices include the destroyed wedding cake, drunken revelations, desperate bridesmaids, and doofus best men.

Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past does enough to justify a breezy trip through time, but still arrives at all the familiar conclusions.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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