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Review: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past

A Christmas Carol has been adapted several times over the past years. Sorry to say, but Ghosts of Girlfriends Past falls disappointingly short of our expectations, says Rashid Irani.

movie reviews Updated: Aug 22, 2009 13:55 IST
Rashid Irani

Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner
Direction: Mark Waters
Rating: **

A perennial family favourite, A Christmas Carol has been adapted several times over the past years. Besides the fondly remembered 1951 British production, it has also been incarnated as a musical (Scrooge, 1970) and an animated adventure (Christmas Carol-The Movie, 2001). Now, Charles Dickens’ classic tale is re-imagined as a chick flick.

Sorry to say, but Ghosts of Girlfriends Past falls disappointingly short of our expectations. Jettisoning the Christmas theme altogether, the bare bones of the story remain intact. In place of the miserly Scrooge, we have a photographer playboy (McConaughey, clearly past his prime) whose life takes an unexpected turn after visitations from the titular apparitions.

Instead of Christmas, it’s at the country wedding of his brother that the sexaholic shutterbug realizes the error of his womanising ways. All the female characters, with the exception of his childhood sweetheart (Garner, devoid of her customary on-screen sparkle), are at best sketchy and at worst mere fodder for the philanderer. The femmes willingly throw themselves at his feet, never mind his skirt-chasing reputation.

You don’t have to be a soothsayer to predict that the finale will dissolve into a sentimental shambles. There are wince-inducing attempts to weave in some humour in the sequences involving the ghost of the photographer’s mentor uncle (Michael Douglas, having quite a blast).

Ultimately, it’s the shallow script, banal dialogue and the lusterless direction by Mark Waters (Mean Girls) that’s to blame for this near-fiasco of a romantic comedy. Charles Dickens would have certainly not approved.