Making the Grades
Hotshot photographer Connor Mead’s (Matthew McConaughey) favorite subjects are females, and the less clothing they wear the better. When he’s not capturing images, he’s capturing hearts with smarmy pickup lines that would only work in movies like this. Having accumulated a bevy of babes over his relatively short adulthood, he can’t even commit to staying in bed with a woman until the sun rises, let alone think about marriage. Needless to say the boozing bachelor will be the most obnoxious guest at his brother Paul’s (Breckin Meyer) upcoming wedding.
Raised by their rich, and now deceased, Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) after their parents died in a car accident, the brothers have taken distinctly different paths. Walking into the tulle and flower adorned mansion in which he spent his adolescence, Connor’s cynicism is loaded and ready when he meets Paul and his future wife Sandra (Lacey Chabert). What he isn’t prepared for though is a meeting with Jenny (Jennifer Garner), his childhood sweetheart. It seems she knew Connor before he set off to womanize the world, and still yearns to find the young boy she once loved. Considering this sex-obsessed scoundrel has previously slept with all but one of the bridesmaids—an omission he’s aiming to fix ASAP— her wistful longings seem nothing more than a fanciful dream.
And that is just what the script employs to wake up this randy rogue. Borrowing a few pages from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Uncle Wayne plays Jacob Marley and a selection of female guides who act as the ghosts to lead him through his past, present and future.
The road to Connor’s reformation requires a long ramble through his colorful history, replete with many replays of sexual moments, innuendos and lengthy discussions of his indiscretions. These depictions are punctuated by frequent profanities, religious and Christian expletives, derogatory comments toward homosexuals, and nearly every crude term for sex imaginable. A single slap on a man’s face by a woman is the only violence (and sadly, is likely a justified use of brutality).
In addition to these content issues is the even greater concern that some young viewers may accept the romantic portrayals within this movie as valid. The story definitely plays to female audiences and the idea that the love of a good woman can be enough to bring a bad man back to his senses. In this case, Jenny truly believes she can have a happy future by exorcizing Connor’s playboy present while keeping all his wonderful traits from the past.
Although it is true people can change, I can’t say I’m convinced the events of this one night will cause the desired, permanent transformation. After watching Connor’s antics throughout the film, I’d say Jenny doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance at finding a faithful, long-lasting relationship.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.
A character in this film says the person with the most power in a relationship is the one who cares the least. Do you think this statement is accurate? How can someone avoid becoming the “victim” in a relationship? Can a relationship of trust be developed between people if one person is concerned about holding power?
Women in movies are often portrayed as being attracted to guys who need “fixing up.” Do you think these depictions are accurate? How can a woman know if a man is worth such efforts, and whether or not the changes will be permanent? Do you think it is possible for a man to fall into a habit of learned helplessness? What can both genders do to maintain a healthy interdependent relationship?
Although a joke is made about the number of condoms Connor has used in his “career,” what health concerns would/should his partners have about entering into a relationship with a man like him?