Genre: Romantic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.
Release Date: May 1st, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Mark Waters Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster, Anne Archer, Noureen DeWulf
hosts of Girlfriends Past” is a loosely veiled but cleverly comedic twist on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” And surprisingly, it’s entertaining, despite obviously serving as 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. Paul (Breckin Meyer), his brother, invites Connor to his wedding with Sandra (Lacey Chabert), against the advice of Connor’s childhood sweetheart Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner) and everyone familiar with the lady-killer’s scandalous ways. She once had hopes for him, but Connor didn’t want his meaningless yet exciting and 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 womanizer 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 grew up believing that love was a magical comfort food for the weak and uneducated – forever obstructing 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 after 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 poignant themes less than seriously. Several of the purely comedic performances, including Emma Stone as the Ghost of Girlfriends Past and Douglas as rakish libertine Wayne, are hilariously delightful. It may be a Matthew McConaughey movie, but it’s decidedly more open to general audiences than his usual women-only, mindless, romantic mush.
– Mike Massie