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Hunter Becomes Haunted

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

Ron Batzdorff/Warner Bros. Pictures

The best thing about "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" is that it makes no pretense to be anything other than the formulaic romantic comedy that it is. In its cheeky refurbishment of the familiar premise of Charles Dickens’s "A Christmas Carol," the film takes a certain kind of unabashed delight in its own predictability. The entertainment value comes from a series of wonderfully over-the-top performances and a string of well-placed one-liners.

Matthew McConaughey is Connor Mead, a well-known photographer whose infamous reputation as a womanizer just slightly exceeds his professional one – and he likes it that way. Every ounce of his being reacts violently to the idea of his younger brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer), getting married, but he finds himself attending the wedding anyway. Connor’s vitriolic opposition to the “archaic institution” of marriage starts trickling into the wedding party like a poison, and he finds himself trading razor sharp insults with his childhood best friend and first love, Jenny (Jennifer Garner), who is serving as maid of honor to Paul’s betrothed, Sandra (Lacey Chabert).

Enter the ghost of Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), notorious playboy and Connor’s idol. Seeking to reverse some of the effects of the licentious lessons he bestowed upon young Connor, Wayne sets his nephew on a course to encounter three ghosts: girlfriends past, present and future. The man-whore must now confront “some things [he hasn’t] felt in a long time: namely, feelings.”

The casting lends itself to the tongue-in-cheek tone of the film, playing on the rakish reputations both Messrs. McConaughey and Douglas have held in Hollywood. Ms. Garner provides a calm counter to the two of them, though the romantic chemistry is slightly lacking between she and Mr. McConaughey. The supporting cast really makes this movie, with its drily hilarious turn by Noureen DeWulf as Connor Mead’s assistant and "Superbad’s" sweetheart Emma Watson playing his kooky first conquest/ghost of girlfriends past.


Opens on May 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Directed by Mark Waters; written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore; director of photography, Daryn Okada; edited by Bruce Green; music by Rolfe Kent; production designer, Cary White; produced by Jon Shestack and Brad Epstein; released by Warner Bros. Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Matthew McConaughey (Connor Mead), Jennifer Garner (Jenny Perotti), Breckin Meyer (Paul), Lacey Chabert (Sandra), Robert Forster (Sergeant Volkom), Anne Archer (Vonda Volkom), Emma Stone (Allison Vandermeersh) and Michael Douglas (Uncle Wayne).


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