Celebrity photographer Connor Mead (MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY) loves freedom, fun and women...in that order. A committed bachelor with a no-strings policy, he thinks nothing of breaking up with multiple women on a conference call while prepping his next date.
Connor's brother Paul is more the romantic type. In fact, he's about to be married. Unfortunately, on the eve of the big event, Connor's mockery of romance proves a real buzz-kill for Paul, the wedding party and a houseful of well wishers--including Connor's childhood friend Jenny (JENNIFER GARNER), the one woman in his life who has always seemed immune to his considerable charm.
Just when it looks like Connor may single-handedly ruin the wedding, he gets a wake-up call from the ghost of his late Uncle Wayne (MICHAEL DOUGLAS), the hard-partying, legendary ladies man upon whose exploits Connor has modeled his lifestyle. Uncle Wayne has an urgent message for his protege, which he delivers through the ghosts of Connor's jilted girlfriends--past, present and future--who take him on a revealing and hilarious odyssey through a lifetime of failed relationships.
Together, they will discover what turned Connor into such a shameless player and whether he has a second chance to find - and this time, keep - the love of his life.
If ever there is a handbook for how to be the ultimate ladies' man or the ideal philanderer, I imagine Connor Mead would be its famed author. In 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past', his sexual exploits and gallivanting about town are depicted as things of legend to young horny men. For women -- and here's the strangest part of this new romantic comedy -- his wanton behavior is viewed as arousing rather than despicable or even repulsive. At one point, three women even argue as to who is next in line to be his latest conquest. Only in the movies can such a character exist; random, contemporary women be so gullible; and the guy ultimately be reformed by a Dickens classic, as if he'd ever read it.
After ending three separate relationships all at once via an online chat, Connor arrives to his younger brother's (Breckin Meyer) wedding rehearsal in a less than congratulatory mood. His method of gift-giving is to hand his brother keys to a car in order to run away instead of taking him aside to whisper advice and best wishes. He is unapologetic about his humbug attitude towards marriage, and makes no secret as to his philosophy on spooning. In fact, he's pretty much a schmuck and a jerk about all things love-related, as displayed by his embarrassingly loud tirade in the middle of a family dinner. This guy is easy to despise (Oh yeah, and he's played by Matthew McConaughey).
It's to the credit, then, of McConaughey that the audience remains invested long enough to see Connor's transformation all the way through to the end. He plays the slick, fast-talking playboy with an entertaining charisma and swagger that only he could really pull off. Although his pretending to be a New Yorker with a thick Southern accent reveals some limitations, he is plausibly funny as an irredeemable bachelor about to be visited by the ghosts of past, present and future. As with Scrooge (and this is not a spoiler, as long as there is some familiarity with the traditional Christmas fable), Connor is made aware of the moment when he became a womanizing arse and is shown the fate his current path will lead him to.
Adding to the humor is Connor's Robert Evans-wannabe Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), the ghost who warns his nephew of the three paranormal visitations. As un-PC as the character may be, Douglas is perfectly cast with the best lines in the entire flick. Jennifer Garner plays the childhood sweetheart who got away. Or better yet, the one Connor just couldn't see himself spending the night with. She does fine in the role, standing toe-to-toe with McConaughey, but the sparks between the two actors are no more powerful than static electricity. The spotlight really goes to a very funny and talented Emma Stone as the ghost of girlfriends past. Although too young to know anything about 80s fashion and lingo, she's absolutely adorable in her denim outfit and puffy hair scrunchie.
Director Mark Waters ('Freaky Friday', 'Mean Girls') does surprisingly well with the material, maintaining the Scrooge tale at the level of witty ploy, rather than a direct cookie-cutter copy. He also seems to impart his film with a kind of holiday spirit that is unexpected, yet works nicely with Daryn Okada's photography. But in the end, the fact that the filmmakers didn't completely spoil Dickens's masterpiece has to be the romcom's greatest accomplishment. That, and the few clever, "aw-shucks" moments sprinkled throughout. There's only one thing I can't seem to put my finger on: who is supposed to be Tiny Tim in all this?
The audio is about equal, if not to some extent more impressive, than the picture quality, with a very welcoming and expansive acoustical presence. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack exhibits excellent, well-centered dialogue reproduction, delivering McConaughey's Texan drawl with great fluidity, and a wide dynamic range that stays smooth and consistent throughout. It's a mostly front-heavy mix, which is expected of a film in this genre, but rear activity is nicely employed every so often, creating an immersive and realistic atmosphere. The score also lends itself well to enhancing the soundfield, and low-frequency effects are generally reserved for any on-screen action. In the end, 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' materializes with an engaging lossless track.
As with the 'Observe and Report' release, 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' premieres as a barebones DVD disc, making all the supplemental material exclusive to the Blu-ray edition.
Despite coming off as a complete jerk, Connor Mead is a likable character in 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' and McConaughey does a laudable job at keeping us interested in his ethereal awakening. With strong direction and a good cast, the romcom is a decent enough entry amidst some other poorly done films. The Blu-ray arrives with excellent picture and audio, and the exclusive supplemental package makes this hi-def version a definite purchase for fans.