This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and
here’s my commentary on a film now showing at The
Majestic Theater in
Presumably, you don’t even have to acknowledge anymore the borrowed idea of the appearance of three ghosts: Past, Present, and Future, or cite “The Christmas Carol,” or give any reference to Charles Dickens or his estate or his descendants. I suppose it is considered sufficiently widespread culturally as to reside permanently in the public domain, like Cinderella, or Goldilocks?
Well, certainly the movie “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” borrows unashamedly the idea, but actually four ghosts appear to a shallow, self-centered bachelor named Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey). The first is his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), the Hugh-Hefner-like figure who raised him after his parents died, and showed him how to be a true playboy: that is, treat women like objects to be used and discarded. Dear, Departed Uncle Wayne now tries to tell him how that selfish road leads to a lot of loneliness. Then the ghost of his first prom date takes him on an embarrassing tour through “all the girls he’s loved before, and came in and out his door,” in the immortal words of Willie Nelson, followed by the ghost of his current administrative assistant, who points out to him what a fool he’s making of himself at his brother’s wedding, and how blind he is not to see how much he still loves his boyhood flame, Jenny (Jennifer Garner). Then a very silent ghost of his future shows him how much he ruined his brother’s life by telling his bride, on the eve of the wedding, about his fling with one of her bridesmaids, back when they first started dating. So not only would our heartless hero die alone and lonely, so would his only brother.
Not surprisingly, our callous cad turns into a changed man, and does his level best to right himself, and the damage he’s already done, before it’s too late. It’s sweet and cute and we root for the fated couple, Connor and Jenny, even as we’re wondering how much they really have in common, other than lots of missed opportunities. Well, you get what you expect out of this romantic comedy, along with an unapologetic literary reference. “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” is cute and harmless and light-hearted; the kind of movie where you feel even better about yourself if you happen to be watching it with a long-time lover whose relationship you have managed not to mess up.
This is Ron Salfen, “At the Movies,” for 93-5 KICK-FM