Warner Bros. | 2009 | 100 mins. | Rated PG-13

In my recent review of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days on Blu-ray, I wrote that Matthew McConaughey had seemed to largely abandon films with serious themes to crank out a series of romantic comedies. Since 2003, McConaughey has starred in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, among others, and now 2009’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, none of them absolutely terrible (though Fool’s Gold came close), but all of them are decidedly mediocre. This time McConaughey has put a bit of a literary twist into the romantic comedy, with a modern retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Ghosts of Girlfriends PastIn Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, McConaughey plays Connor Mead, a successful fashion photographer and full-time ladies’ man, who beds every girl he meets and leaves them just as fast. After dumping three women at once via a conference call and one in person, he heads off to his family home for the wedding of his younger brother, Paul (Breckin Meyer), and his fiancée Sandra (Lacey Chabert). Connor quickly makes a mess of the occasion by bedding all but one of the bridesmaids. As it turns out, the maid of honor, Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner), a “hot, single doctor,” is one of Connor’s old flames.

In A Christmas Carol, four spirits visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve: The ghost of his deceased partner and the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Here, Connor gets visited by similar spirits, starting with his dead Uncle Wayne, a rich, playboy, played by Michael Douglas. Uncle Wayne raised and mentored young Connor in the ways of bachelorhood, but now that he’s joined the afterlife, he regrets his former lifestyle. So, Uncle Wayne repeatedly implores his nephew to give up his lecherous ways. Problem is, neither of them is very convincing, so by the end of the film it’s hard to believe either character has truly bought into what they’ve been selling.

Along the way, we meet an eclectic cast of characters in both real and ghost form. Allison Vandermeesh (Emma Stone) is Connor’s frizzy, redheaded first, sexual conquest; Sandra (Lacey Chabert), the brother’s confused and irratated bride; Sergeant Major Volkom, USMC, retired, turned minister (Robert Forster), the bride’s dad; Vonda Volkom (Anne Archer), the bride’s comely mother; Brad (Daniel Sunjada), a handsome, unmarried man who becomes interested in Jenny at the wedding party; Denice (Amada Walsh), the lone bridesmaid who hasn’t slept with Connor wants to; and Mel (Noureen DeWulf), Connor’s trusted assistant and the Ghost of Girlfriends Present. While this fine supporting cast does what it can with the material given, the script is pretty bad. Written by Jon Lucas (The Hangover) and Scott Moore, this screenplay had been floating around Hollywood for nearly a decade before it was filmed. Given that amount of time, one would have hoped Lucas and Moore could’ve given the story more life. Replacing Scrooge with a serial cheater doesn’t result in a heartwarming Dickensian impact as he gradually becomes more self-aware. Despite a late attempt to make his character seem more likeable by having his brother deliver a speech praising his behavior when they were younger and lost their parents, he remains a largely unsympathetic and uninteresting character throughout the film.

Unfortunately, you can put Ghosts of Girlfriends Past on the growing list of forgettable romantic comedies starring Matthew McConaughey. If you’re a big fan of the Texan, or have always wanted to see Michael Douglas doing his best Robert Evans impression, than be sure to pick up Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, otherwise skip it.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past comes to Blu-ray with an uneven transfer. The VC-1 encoded image (2.40:1 aspect ratio) is all over the map. While the color is good and indoor scenes border on fabulous, contrast is troubling. Black levels are inconsistent, while details are largely non-existent. Sadly, when it comes to detail, some recent standard definition titles have done better rendering detail than Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Thankfully, skintones are nicely rendered. I may have been a bit tough on Warner Bros. for their visual presentation here, but the studio has generally done a solid job with their recent Blu-ray transfers; this one is a bit of a disappointment.

Unlike the video, Warner Bros. has provided a stellar audio presentation. A Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound experience provides the viewer with an immersive experience. In this dialogue based film, chatter is lively and crisp, finding proper balance, which carries a solid power that fills the soundstage. Comical sound effects help out the surrounds during the film, with a few of the heightened crashes adding some LFE attention to the onscreen activities. Dolby Digital English and Spanish tracks are also available.

English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past contains the following special features:

Recreating the Past, Imagining the Future (8:39) is a fairly typical behind-the-scenes featurette. Features interviews and on-set footage.
It’s All About Connor (4:05) asks the cast and crew a burning question: how cool is it to work with Matthew McConaughey? Apparently, it’s pretty great. There’s some discussion of the character’s state of mind, but the rest is devoted to McConaughey and his charms.
The Legends, the Lessons, and The Ladies (8:00) talks swagger with Michael Douglas and the cast, discussing character inspiration and their way with women.
Deleted Scenes (9:32) most of these cuts were made after a test screening, and rightfully so.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past will be released on September 22, 2009. It will be available in various formats including Blu-ray, DVD, On-Demand and via digital download.

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