So, check it: I’m gossing with a friend about essentially the Platonic Ideal of a Bad Boyfriend, and she says, “have you ever watched Ghosts of Girlfriends Past“?1
It might sound like non sequitur, but it was actually a perfectly reasonable segue. Because the tagline to this movie could have been, “Feel better about the bad choices you’ve made in your love life. You could have done much worse.”
Matthew McConaughey stars as Connor Mead, a name the screenwriter must have been pretty proud to come up with because it is said in full about 15,000 times throughout the 100 minute movie. Connor Mead is a famous photographer of dubious talent, but more importantly he is the worst person in the universe to date.
This movie really, really wants to get across how disgusting Connor Mead is, never quite being satisfied with its exposition on that point. Not convinced after his photo shoot where he strips a starlet down to her underwear without her consent and has an arrow shot at her head over her firm objection? Well here he is insulting the starlet to her face while getting ready to bone her. A sick-making boning which is, to make it even more clear that Connor Mead is the worst possible romantic partner imaginable, interrupted by him dumping three chicks over a conference call.
You know what that Connor Mead needs? A Dickensian redemption on the eve of his younger brother’s wedding! Three ghosts (plus Michael Douglas in the Jacob Marley role) pop in and out of Connor Mead’s brain to find out how he became such a toolshed, and maybe, just maybe, save him from a lonely life with only Breckin Meyer in horrifying age makeup to mourn him when he’s gone.
First thing that went wrong is Connor Mead’s parents died, which we all know is a nonstop ticket to the bitter streets of Stoneheart City. Then Connor Mead failed to ask young Jenny (played by the same chick who played the 1980s version of Jennifer Garner in 13 going on 30, which is bizarrely specific way to be typecast) to dance when REO Speedwagon came on at the Spring Fling, and lost her to a ninth grader.
After the school dance disaster, Michael Douglas enrolled Connor Mead in Douche Academy. Fast forward to the Ghosts of Girlfriends Present and Connor Mead has boned three-quarters of his soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal party and lines up the “hat trick” by APOLOGIZING to her because unlike all her best friends she hasn’t yet had the privilege of his pelvic thrust.
Eugch, that Connor Mead! I need a stick of gum or some mouthwash or something.
The problem with this whole A Christmas Carol storyline is that the more we find out about Connor Mead, the less I want Connor Mead to be redeemed. Especially because Connor Mead’s redemption means that poor Jenny has to end up with him, and all of his sexually transmitted infections, instead of a hot fellow doctor she meets at the wedding. When the Ghost of Girlfriends Future, or whatever, shows Connor Mead Jenny’s wedding to Hot Fellow Doctor, it is not a sad thing. It’s not like the audience thinks, “Oh god, this horrible future must be stopped!” We’re like, “Aw, look at Jenny and Hot Fellow Doctor getting married!”
When Connor Mead wakes up and gets a second chance (once he’s fixed his brothers’ wedding which he somehow destroyed while I was getting Collin more ice for his face2) the audience is like, “Ok, that’s enough redemption for you! Now stop. Stop it! STOP IT BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT.”
But you know that won’t happen. You know Jenny is going to get all dewey eyed as he makes some dramatic wedding-saving speech, and return to the place of her childhood romance during the reception and then slow dance with Connor Mead in the snow when REO Speedwagon comes on. And over the credits the interchangeable slutty bridesmaids will physically fight over men, because bitches be horny at a wedding, right bro?
Well, yeah, this is a wedding movie. Everyone’s inexplicably fabulously wealthy. The bride freaks out over the wrong salad being served. Someone has dead parents. The main characters make horrible choices with their love lives and we’re supposed to celebrate the romance of it all.
1Actually, yes, I watched it on the flight to my sister’s wedding, which was a year and two days ago. Belated happy anniversary, Beck!
2Collin got his widsom teeth extracted today. Wish him speedy healing and tell him to take his damn painkillers when he needs them.
August 10, 2010 at 6:15 am
wow. that movie sounds great ha ha. i never quite understand when the person we are supposed to be rooting for is someone i find so unpleasant. like when i watched reality bites and thought ‘hmm now i realize ethan hawke is cute but he is being a total dick throughout this movie’
hope collin feels better soon!
August 10, 2010 at 10:54 am
Oh man, the difference between how I felt about Ethan Hawke’s character the first time I watched Reality Bites (when I was ten or eleven) and the second time (when I was twenty or so) was EPIC. I don’t know if it was growing up or the 90s ending or both.
August 11, 2010 at 6:18 am
me too! I actually got together with an old boyfriend over our joint hatred of Ethan Hawke in that movie. We were sitting on a dock and I said ‘how come no one ever picks the nice guy?” and he said ‘I’m the nice guy!” then almost fell off the dock. Its true! He was! Also, he is how I met that dude I’m marrying on Sunday. So thanks, Ethan Hawke, matchmaker extraordinaire.
August 10, 2010 at 8:14 am
Collin, do as she says.
Completely off topic, but still in the arena of d-bags…. have you read/seen I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell? I haven’t read the book, but I’ve read his website. And the movie revolves around a bachelor party and a wedding. If you have the stomach to watch it (because I don’t), please review it.
August 10, 2010 at 10:58 am
Man, I don’t know if I can handle that. I had to read DiMeo v. Max for a class in law school and even descriptions of his antics filtered through judicial decorum are too gross for me.
August 10, 2010 at 10:05 am
ew. No. The I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is completely different…because its a real guy. being a real douche bag. and I most definitely want to stab him. No joke, I think he should get hit by a bus. He makes a website, then a book, then a movie out of getting women drunk to sleep with them and get them to do embarassing (and sometimes dehumanizing) things and then making fun of them and just…..
omg. i can’t even talk about it.
August 10, 2010 at 11:00 am
If it makes you feel better, his movie made like 18 cents at the box office.
August 10, 2010 at 11:06 am
Eek, so glad I’ve never seen this movie. Will avoid at all costs.
August 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm
There were a few things that made me laugh out loud. Emma Stone is great, per ush. Robert Forster makes a seating chart with toy soldiers; his family represented by Allies and the in-laws represented by Nazis. Lacey Chabert as Bridezilla made me laugh in spite of myself. But on the whole, not worth watching once, let alone twice.
August 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm
The other day, I finished up a major project at work and went home a little early to recuperate. I snuggled into the sofa, turned on my Netflix instant streaming and selected “The Baxter.” I got about 10 minutes into it before I realized that I would have left that guy at the altar too because he was so irritating. Tony walked in the door, asked me what I was watching, I told him it was a terrible, boring movie un-recommended by you. He thanked me for only watching these awful movies when he is not around.
When we read your review of this movie last night, it was made clear that if I wanted to put this on the watch-half-heartedly list, I would be watching it solo.
August 10, 2010 at 6:06 pm
I actually liked The Baxter, but for absurd comedy reasons, not “romantic” comedy reasons. I still really want to watch a movie where when the people get married/break of their wedding for their true love/whatever I say, “aww!”
August 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm
A Room With a View. Julian Sands = Best reason to break off an engagement to Daniel Day Lewis ever.
August 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm
Man, I hated this movie for more than the obvious reasons (which you have so neatly summarized above). I hated how trite, predictable, and re-hashed the dialogue was. It was really abominable. I watched this movie alone and I was *still* embarrassed for its dialogue, even though Joe wasn’t there to tell me that I watch terrible movies (which I do).
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