Just as celebrity photographer and ladies' man nonpareil Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey, "Fool's Gold," "Tropic Thunder") is about to ruin younger brother Paul's (Breckin Meyer, "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," "Blue State") wedding and douse any feelings long time friend Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner, "13 Going on 30," "Juno") may have had for him, he receives a visit from the man he's modeled himself on, Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas, conspicuously made up to look like Robert Evans), who happens to no longer be among the living. Uncle Wayne delivers a serious wake up call by treating his nephew to "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past."
Movies starring Matthew McConaughey generally don't inspire much hope for anything resembling quality, or, even, entertainment, but Jennifer Garner is always likeable and director Mark Waters ("Mean Girls," "The Spiderwick Chronicles") has a pretty good track record. Then one notes that "Ghosts" was written by the duo behind "Four Christmases" and one's expectations sink again. That said, "Ghosts of Girlfriends" past is better than getting poked in the eye with a stick. It's mostly just there and is unevenly paced, but has a few moments.
None of them arrive in the film's set up in which we're to believe that a famous photographer comes into a shoot where everything is so prearranged he literally just presses the button on the camera. Connor has his assistant video conference his last three dates so he can 'group dump' them as his current hookup looks on (and stays!). His boorish behavior at his brother's rehearsal dinner isn't amusing either, although his attempted pickup of his sister-in-law to-be's mother, Vonda (Anne Archer, "Patriot Games," "Man of the House"), has a little spark, mostly due to Archer (and the fact that Connor may be sexist, but at least he's not ageist).
Douglas's appearance gives the film a lift and Emma Stone ("The Rocker," "The House Bunny") as Allison Vandermeersh, the ghost of girlfriends past, almost makes it bounce for a while. Of course, she's blessed with delivering the back story of what happened to Connor and Jennifer's relationship, the meat of the film. (And call me crazy, but the shoulder length hair McConaughey sports in this segment suits him.) When we move into the present, guided by assistant Melanie (Noureen DeWulf, "American Dreamz"), the film flatlines again and never really recovers. There's wedding cake slapstick (and very bad continuity) and 'fun' with grooms and bridesmaids. Future is dull, but capped with a clever Scrooge riff. The finale is rushed.
The film is mostly set at Ipswich, Massachusetts' Crane Estate, (although everything is branded with Uncle Wayne's initials, a lame pun on 'Wayne Manor') and it's a lovely place. Wedding interiors are lit with a golden glow and the camera just loves Garner of the exquisitely expressive face. With the exception of Douglas, Archer and Stone, the supporting cast - including Robert Forster as Korean War Vet/JP father of the bride, Lacey Chabert as said bride and Meyer - add nothing. In fact, the trio who play the bridesmaids are so unlikable they put the bride in a bad light.
Still, if one is going to sit through a wedding movie, "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" is far less painful than "Bride Wars." At least there's a little romance served up with this comedy.
Robin did not see this film.
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