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Ghosts of Girlfriends Past(2009)
Celebrity photographer Connor Mead loves freedom, fun and women... in that order. A committed bachelor who thinks nothing of breaking up with multiple women on a conference call, Connor's mockery of romance proves a real buzz-kill for his kid brother, Paul, and a houseful of well wishers on the eve of Paul's wedding. Just when it looks like Connor may single-handedly ruin the wedding, he is visited by the ghosts of his former jilted girlfriends, who take him on a revealing and hilarious odyssey through his failed relationships-- past, present and future. Together they attempt to find out what turned Connor into such an insensitive jerk and whether there is still hope for him to find true love...or if he really is the lost cause everyone thinks he is.
For more about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and the Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray release, see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 21, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas, Lacey Chabert, Emma Stone, Christina Milian
Director: Mark Waters
» See full cast & crew
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray Review
This critically drubbed romantic comedy earns a respectable Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 21, 2009
Before I peeled away a single sliver of shrinkwrap, I already had my review of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past mapped out and written in my head. I had read the reviews, prepared myself for the worst, and had already started to conceive pithy barbs and biting one-liners about what I assumed would be yet another expendable genre misfire. Alas, it was all a waste of time. I didn't hate the film; I didn't loathe its storyline; I didn't find it to be the studio drivel others have declared it to be. No, dear readers, the steady smile smeared across my face made it clear that I was about to part from the critical crowd. Maybe the film caught me at just the right time. Maybe my love of Dickens adaptations, clever or conventional, provided the necessary bias to enjoy its wares (I'm unashamed to admit The Muppet Christmas Carol remains one of my favorite films of all time). Regardless, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past actually appealed to my sensibilities. Who knew?
World famous photographer Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) has left a trail of women in his wake, all of whom trace back to the lost love of his young life, Jenny (Jennifer Garner). Raised by his late, lecherous Uncle Wayne (a suitably smug and slimy Michael Douglas), Connor has learned to run from any relationship the moment he begins to feel something. But when he agrees to attend the wedding of his dutiful brother (Breckin Meyer) and Jenny's neurotic best friend (Lacey Chabert), his long-standing philosophies are put to the test. They're further challenged by the ghost of good ol' uncle Wayne who warns Connor he'll soon be visited by three spirits (Emma Stone, Noureen DeWulf, and Olga Maliouk). Yep, it's A Christmas Carol with a modern romcom twist. Before you can say "bah humbug," the spirits drag Connor on a whirlwind tour of his past, present, and future; a journey that will force the love-em-and-leave-em photographer to reevaluate his life and revisit all the women he's left behind.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past has received its fair share of criticism, so much so that many romantic comedy regulars may overlook its release in favor of bigger, badder titles hitting the market. But those who reserve their judgment until they sample the goods may be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Unlike the usual genre schlock Hollywood churns out by the barrel, Mean Girls director Mark Waters' production has a playful pulse; one that toys with cliches and revels in skewing accepted conventions. That's not to say it's wholly original -- it's not -- but it does display a variety of knowing winks that make it feel more satirical than its by-the-numbers plot might suggest. By the same token, McConaughey doesn't step into the slick shoes of a character audiences haven't seen before, he merely inhabits them with a welcome commitment to every cheesy pickup line and self-absorbed speech. More importantly, I bought Connor's transformation and even felt some sympathy as his past came to light. Waters doesn't overutilize heartstrings, but he does know when to give them enough of a tug to allow viewers to connect with his characters, even when those characters are bitter, superficial, or conceited (as Connor so often is).
Problems? Despite my inexplicable fondness for the film, I can think of several. For once, more self-referential humor (in the vein of Allison's montage of romantic interludes between Connor and Jenny) would have strengthened the tone of the tale. Likewise, had more attention been paid to Connor's inner turmoil (or at the very least his waning humanity), he would have emerged as a far more sympathetic character. It doesn't help that so many of the supporting actors are squandered in roles we've seen before. While Douglas steals the show every time he graces the screen, Robert Forster, Anne Archer, and Rescue Me's hot-tempered Daniel Sunjata are wasted on lame gags and unnecessary exposition. As presented, you'd think Hollywood had never given us an overbearing military father, an oversexed mother, or a prim and proper man-foil. Don't get me wrong, the actors give it their all, but their characters are too underdeveloped and unoriginal to strike any particular chord. And just skip the painful scenes that pop up during the end credits.
Maybe I'm being too kind to Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, but it struck me as a harmless dose of sweet and syrupy romcom fun. The cast has chemistry, the Christmas Carol connections are wisely applied, and the laughs -- while primarily of the slight-grin-inducing variety -- keep things light and whimsical. It certainly doesn't deserve accolades, but it also doesn't deserve the ire that's been tossed its way. Give it a spin and let me know if I've lost my mind.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray, Video Quality
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past materializes on Blu-ray with a sharp and saavy 1080p/VC-1 transfer that grabs hold of Daryn Okada's burdensome palette and sunless shadows. Skintones border on bronzed (most everyone looks as if they've spent a bit too much time in a tanning booth) and blacks are oppressive as they come, but it works surprisingly well within the confines of Waters' Scroogian send-up. Detail is satisfying as well, delivering a series of pleasantly refined textures and sharp definition. Granted, the use of edge enhancement leads to some minor, intermittent ringing, but it's never a distraction. Moreover, digital anomalies like artifacting, banding, and aliasing are nowhere to be found, delineation is much stronger than I expected (especially considering how poorly lit Uncle Wayne's mansion seems to be), and unintentional noise isn't a factor. Inherent shortcomings aside, the film looks pretty impressive in high definition, enough so that it should satisfy its fans' desires.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past features a full but fairly front-heavy Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track that handles the film's limited soundscape and chatty breakups with ease. The LFE channel plays an unexpectedly playful role in the proceedings, granting voices natural weight, lending creepy dreamscapes a frothy atmosphere, and the musical score bounce and fervor. The rear speakers are restrained, serving up little more than tinkering wedding ambience and the fundamental properties of convincing interior acoustics. Dialogue is the key component of the mix, and it sounds fantastic. Each actor's lines are crisp and perfectly intelligible, prioritization is faultless, and McConaughey's gravely Southern drawl is rich and robust. Sure, everything is anchored to the front channels more often than not, but directionality remains precise and pans are as smooth as Connor's charms. Romcom junkies will be content with the results.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past meanders onto the scene with a bland batch of supplements culled from the standard DVD. Recreating the Past, Imagining the Future (HD, 9 minutes) is a rather lunk-headed EPK in which McConaughey and crew describe everything you just watched. It's All About Connor (HD, 4 minutes) offers a quick, tongue-in-cheek introduction to McConaughey that allows his supporting cast to compliment his personality and contributions ad nauseum. The Legends, the Lessons, and the Ladies dissects the characters of Connor and Wayne. Finally, a series of deleted scenes (SD, 10 minutes) is on hand, but ultimately underwhelms. There's an alternate opening and two full-length scenes, but the only thing of interest is an entertaining extended scene between Douglas and McConaughey. Ah well, at least the majority of the material (minus the additional scenes) is presented in high definition.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even though critics and cynics have already logged their many (arguably warranted) grievances against Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I found it to be a mildly amusing, even slightly inventive take on A Christmas Carol. It follows the romcom formula to the letter, but it's a decent flick nonetheless. The Blu-ray edition boasts an able-bodied video transfer and a faithful TrueHD audio track. Aside from an aimless, unfulfilling supplemental package, it's a solid release. Romantic comedy suckers will enjoy everything it has to offer more than anyone else, but it's at least worth a rent.
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Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Blu-ray Announced - July 16, 2009
New Line Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Warner Home Video, has announced that it will release the romantic comedy 'Ghosts of Girlfriends Past' on Blu-ray on September 22, day-and-date with the DVD. This movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner, ...
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