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Rated NR · 2009

Two weeks after jowly Matthew Perry transformed into pretty Zac Efron to relive his adolescence in 17 Again, Warner Bros. releases Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, another backward and backward-looking child-is-father-to-the-man rom-com. Matthew McConaughey stars as NYC celebrity photographer Connor Mead, a horndog who tries to convince his kid brother, about to tie the knot in Newport, that marriage is an oppressive institution. One of the bridesmaids is Jenny (Jennifer Garner), a childhood friend of the roué with a maddening tendency to psychologize him. The man-whore will be redeemed, of course, guided by the apparitions of his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), who home-schooled Connor in piggy behavior, and his first conquest, Allison (Emma Stone). Mark Waters, who directed the excellent Lindsay Lohan vehicles Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, helms Ghosts of Girlfriends Past like a wedding video shot by a drunk cousin. His task isn’t made any easier with the risible script by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, which is full of nuggets like “Pain eats regret every day of the week and twice on Sunday.” The cast fares no better: The absolute null that is McConaughey seems to be channeling Jim Morrison’s Lizard King persona. And Garner just looks embarrassed in her scenes with the leading man, hoping, perhaps, that she can disappear into her own dimples.

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