AWFJ Women On Film – “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” – Susan Granger reviews

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So here’s the pitch: imagine taking the premise of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and making it into a romantic comedy, casting Matthew McConaughey in the Scrooge role with Jennifer Garner as his love interest. (Well, actually, it was pitched with Ben Affleck as the leading man but wiser minds prevailed.)

Manhattan celebrity photographer Connor Mead (McConaughey) is a crass, egotistical womanizer with a wretched reputation. In an opening scene, he callously breaks up with three women on a computer-based conference-call, musing to a third woman, “Since when did casual sex become a crime?” Then he’s off to serve as Best Man as his younger brother Paul (Breckin Meyer) marries Sandra (Lacey Chabert) at their late uncle’s lavish Newport, Rhode Island, estate, where his childhood pal/former flame, Jenny Perotti (Garner), wary of his cynical, lothario game, threatens at the rehearsal dinner: “If you do anything to detract from this wedding, I will sneak into your room in the middle of the night and cut off your favorite appendage!”

Instead, Connor’s accosted by Dickens’ Marley character in the sprit form of his playboy Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), who warns him, “ Don’t waste your life the way I did…Tonight, you’re going to be visited by three ghosts.”

Escorted by 16 year-old Allison (“Superbad’s” Emma Stone), fresh from the memory of a disastrous junior high-school dance, Connor revisits the many women he has wronged from his past, present and potentially lonely future, learning more about himself than he ever wanted to know and, predictably, getting his comeuppance.

Christa B. Allen, who plays the teenage version of Jenny, also played Garner’s younger self in “13 Going on 30” (2004). Rounding out the cast are Robert Forster and Anne Archer as Sandra’s (divorced) parents.

Scripted by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (“Four Christmases”) and directed by Mark Waters (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”), it’s a frothy, formulaic frolic. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” is an ephemeral 6, a ridiculously amusing ‘date movie’ that will evaporate before summer.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.