I learned something new about myself during Ghosts of Girlfriends Past today. It’s a very fascinating self-realization. Trust me. And it is this: If a restroom is completely empty, I will inexplicably use the urinal lower to the ground — the one designed for short people and adolescents. I don’t really know why this is: I’m six foot tall, so I in no way need to use the short person’s urinal. But I do all the same. I wonder what Freud would think?
Here’s another completely uninteresting fact about me. Depending on the movie, I’m a frequent restroom visitor. I don’t know that it’s TBS (tiny bladder syndrome), so much as it’s just a hypersensitive bladder, though one that can be easily distracted. The better the movie, the less often I visit the restroom. There was a time, in fact, when I considered designing a grading system for reviews around how many trips I made to the loo. The Dark Knight, for instance, was two-and-a-half hours, yet I managed to avoid the restroom all together. For comparison’s sake, The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a little over an hour and a half. I visited the men’s four times.
It’s not that it’s an atrocious movie. Well, that’s not true. It is an atrocious movie. It’s a lot like a Fray song or Snow Patrol (or are they the same band?) — corporately manufactured and sanitized, but it hits all the big notes — pounds on them, in fact. It’s empty, full of itself, and kind of tedious, but it’s not painful. Just overly processed and really fucking shiny. Especially McConaughey. What is up with that dude? Why does he always glisten? He’s not sweaty in Ghosts, and it’s not oily skin exactly. He just glistens like he’s just finished some really stinky McConaughfuck. He’s got a weird Mickey Rourke aura — filthy sex and sleaze. I bet he smells like a wet spot. But it works for McConaughey; he’s charmingly slimy, the kind of guy a lot of ladies might like to sleep with, but not a guy I’d want to shake hands with.
He plays Connor Mead (of course he does), a photographer and ladies’ man who never met an orifice he didn’t schtup. He takes photographs of women in their netherness, and then goes on boink benders. He’s called to his kid brother’s (Breckin Meyer) wedding, however, and spends the first 20 minutes of the movie trying to dissuade his brother from buying into the institution, insisting that “love is a myth.” Also in attendance is Jenny (Jennifer Garner), the Maid of Honor and childhood friend/boyhood crush of Connor. As we learn from the Ghost of Girlfriends Past (Emma Stone), Connor and Jenny have had a sordid history. She was the first girl to break his heart, and as a consequence and with the help of his Uncle Walt (Michael Douglas), Connor learned to close himself off from feelings while also landing a nightly lay or two.
As the Christmas Carol gimmicks are designed to do, we get to revisit Connor’s past relationships, the current muddle of a life he’s leading, and the future consequences — dying alone, unloved, and probably of a crippling venereal disease. It’s your typical Dickens formula infused with the hormonal stickiness of McConaughy and the genuine sweetness of Garner, whose dimples have more personality that the entire rest of the film.
Mark Waters (Just Like Heaven, Mean Girls) does his usual hired-hand stuff — safely sticks to the formulaic script, carrying it from one scene to the another under well-lit sets and blemish free actors with perfect teeth and well-coifed hairdos. The only real spark of energy comes from Emma Stone, who is flitty and boisterous and borderline irritating. But at least when she was onscreen, I felt no need to use the bathroom. Otherwise, if you are planning to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I’d at least recommend an aisle seat. Near the back. It’s much less disruptive when you need go hang a wire.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. You can email him or leave a comment below.