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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (review)

Anti Love Story

Ah, *swoon,* it’s so romantic! Every woman in the world can’t help but fall in love with Connor Mead — and he lets them! — but it’s only just cuz the woman he really loves broke his heart forever ago! So sad! He’s so damaged and fragile and tragic and of course that’s why all those women fall for him, and that’s why he can never really love any of them! Irony! OMG *sigh*


No, sorry, I can’t do this. Even trying to think about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past from a snarky perspective makes me want to vomit. This is a repulsive movie, way worse than I was expecting from the revolting trailer and the presence of the nauseating Matthew McConaughey and the disgusting premise: that a soulless, heartless manwhore could be redeemed by a phantasmagorical journey through all his sexual conquests. Connor Mead is a selfish dick, and I don’t like to use that word as an insult, but he really is just a brainless walking penis, and McConaughey does precisely nothing to make us care one tiny little whit about him. He got his heart broken once, and that excuses him from being the world’s biggest asshole? Ugh. Who the hell hasn’t had their heart broken? Do we morph from decent people into swaggering jerks? No, we do not, sir. We’re supposed to believe that, literally overnight, Connor Mead will morph from an asshole into a decent person? Not bloody likely, and poor Jennifer Garner better have a divorce attorney on standby. And probably a therapist, too.

Connor Mead oozes his way through this movie, wondering why casual sex has gotten such a bad rap that he has to even try these days to find someplace wet and warm to stick his dick. It’s because of jerks like him, of course: he claims to love all women, claims to be able to find something beautiful in all of them. But there are no ugly or average-looking women in Connor Mead’s life: they’re all 5-10, 110-pound underwear models with 23-inch waists and D-cups, a combination that does not naturally occur in real life — so, you know, it’s not much of a stretch to find something “beautiful” about them, if your notion of beauty is so tediously conventional as to coincide with that of Playboy magazine. He’s a hotshot photographer, you see, who terrorizes women for a living, and they love him for it. No, really: The film opens with him doing a shoot of a pop star who’s supposed to be Beyoncé-esque, I suppose, a cute, curvy chick whom Connor’s assistants strip almost naked without her permission before he brandishes a deadly weapon at her in order to get a “genuine” reaction for the camera. And then — naturally — she’s climbing all over him, ready to fuck. Because that’s what turns a gal on: terror.

Hilariously, though — in a way that makes me want to curl up into a fetal ball of heartbroken womanliness and sob for three days — Ghosts of Girlfriends Past also is part of the reason why romance gets a bad rap, too. Connor is off to the wedding of his brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer [Robot Chicken: Star Wars, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties], perhaps the first time he’s been authentically adorable since Clueless), where it’s all bridezillas — Paul’s fiancée, Sandra (Lacey Chabert: Rugrats Go Wild, Daddy Day Care) throws a childish hissy fit over the salad being served at her rehearsal dinner, for starters — and horny bridesmaids who say things like, Men aren’t really married if they don’t have children (meaning they’re fair game for horny bridesmaids). For extra bonus assholery, director Mark Waters (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Just Like Heaven) makes sure to turn Paul’s groomsmen into spineless dorks. They could have been just nice, regular guys, but that might have made Connor look even worse than he already does. Maybe that’s an indication that more people feel as I do than I suspected: that there is nothing in the least bit attractive about Matthew McConaughey (Tropic Thunder, Fool’s Gold), and that he only can stand comparison with nerds who are better able to talk to their Blackberries than to women.

Not that Connor is really any better. He doesn’t actually bother to seduce women: he just makes flat-out propositions and assumes that his crudity will be considered charming. Apparently, this often works for him, but not at this wedding: His mojo is impaired by the presence of Garner’s (Juno, The Kingdom) Jenny Perotti, who was his childhood sweetheart and is inexplicably still hung up on him. For reasons that don’t quite jibe with the Christmas Carol riffing going on in the script by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (together wrote Four Christmases), Connor will be getting a wakeup call this wedding eve, as three spirits from his “relationships” with women will attempt to open his eyes to the fact that it’s because he’s still hung up on Jenny that he’s been such a massive dick his whole life.

It’s really rather astonishing, actually, that one movie could take two wildly different cartoonish depictions of love and sex — it’s either nonstop loveless fucking or soft-focus girly romance — and make both of them look bad. So kudos to Ghosts for that, I guess. Oh, and for giving us ridiculously unhealthy images of both men and women. Way to go. Connor would like us to believe that all men are dirtbags, and if they aren’t, they’re, well, women (and who on Earth would want to be a woman, especially with the way they let men treat them?). And what that means, I suppose, is that, in the end, we’re meant to infer that reformed dirtbags are the only acceptable kind of person.

Ugh.


MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual content throughout, some language and a drug reference

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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