I know some of you out there enjoy reviews of bad movies and I would include myself in that group. I’ve tried to keep these Christmas Carol reviews positive but I decided to take my hand at being witty and write about what is without a doubt the worst Christmas Carol movie ever made. If anyone tries to defend this garbage I will be stunned.
Yes, this is even worse than the Tori Spelling Christmas Carol movie. At least Tori had a little bit of fun with how bad they were. This junk actually takes itself too seriously. There are no jokes. Nothing funny at all. It’s even worse than All Dogs Go to Heaven Christmas Carol (although not by much) because it has way more potential to be good.
We are a talking about a The Ghosts of Girlfriend Past made in 2009 and starring 2 Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Michael Douglas. Decent actresses of Jennifer Garner and Emma Stone and directed by Mark Waters of Mean Girls fame. It was written by Jon Lucas who wrote The Hangover and Wedding Crashers.
All of that talent produced this junk!
Now I am a staunch defender of the romantic comedy. We all experience romance. It’s a part of life where other genres are not part of most of our lives. When they are done right they are an important part of cinema and very entertaining for poor saps like me.
The Ghost of Girlfriends Past screams of a board meeting where people came up with a gimmick and then pumped out a movie using the latest flavor of the months. They didn’t have an idea or a theme. It was the ultimate in cynical film-making. No effort, no attempt to do anything creative or different. It’s not even stupid funny. It’s just 95 minutes of vanilla laziness.
So here’s the gimmick. Matthew McConaughey is one of the least convincing photographers in movie history and the ultimate womanizer. He is never condemned for these choices but actually applauded for them. It is just time for him to settle down with the old friend Jennifer Garner now that he has sowed his wild oats…
The movie never stops to ask why a woman like Jennifer Garner would want a womanizing jerk like McConaughey? She is merely the puppet that is waiting when he is ready to accept her. This is after they dated as adults and he left her after a one night stand. Groan.
She is even the one who started him on the path to photography by giving him his first camera. Because we know all women in these types of movies are there for is either be frigid ice queens or adorable hags who can’t get a date. Double groan.
Here’s the main problem with this movie (well one of many). The whole point of a Christmas Carol is to show Scrooge how isolating himself from others and from the faith and hope of Christmas has made him a terrible, horrible person and hurt other people. This is a new understanding for him.
In this film, McConaughey has used people too much so showing him people doesn’t show him something different. It’s merely one in the same. It makes everything that is intense and thought provoking in the original story feel crass, manipulative and incredibly stupid. There is no reason to believe McConaughey’s change in the end because he hasn’t been shown anything different, certainly nothing worthy of a dramatic life shift.
What is an intense realization of the life Scrooge could and should be enjoying becomes a clipshow of his greatest hits.
Michael Douglas is the Marley character and it is an embarrassing performance. He tells Conner that in order to not get his heart broken he should love women and leave them. Yeah because that doesn’t lead to any heart break…I know he is trying to put on a Hugh Hefner persona but it comes off as cliched and stupid and insulting. This is Michael Douglas’ grand advice for bedding women (this is the way this movie looks at women):
“So here’s a couple of tips. When you first meet a girl you give her two compliments above the neck. Yeah, tell her she’s got nice lips, nice eyes, nice hair… she’s intelligent, her moral ethics, whatever crap comes to your mind. Then just when she begins to thinks that you’re another – you know – vanilla nice guy that she can tool around with all night without getting naked… then you *insult* her! Flip the power dynamic and your let her know that you’re here to play”
Are you kidding me movie?
Then we get the usually delightful Emma Stone as the Ghost of Girlfriends Past and we get to see how Jennifer Garner was a surrogate mother figure for Conner and he didn’t ask her to the prom and all went to pot. Again, there’s nothing mind altering that McConaughey learns here, nothing that makes him wonder about his life.
There is also a scene where 3 of his former loves bond over the fact that he dumped them via a conference call. Isn’t that hilarious…These women are also told by past to “Don’t be sad, you whiny bitches”…That’s right they had the chance to be with McConaughay so they don’t have any right to complain or have feelings. They aren’t human beings but neither is he. He is worse than a bad soap opera character. At least those men have some drama to their past!
And then finally we get Future by Olga Maliouk where he finds that Jennifer marries his friend Brad who is actually a nice guy. Never good in a movie when we actually want the girl to pick the other guy…
About this time McConaughey says “Really? I mean, now a days being a single means, what? You’ve lost your way? That something is missing? Never mind that every night I swim in a lake of sex, and they fall asleep in each others arms, spooning. ”
And he is right. There are of course concise and thoughtful answers to why his life is shallow and bad but in the world of this movie he is right. There is no good reason given why he should be doing anything different. No convincing case is made for him to change his life and like I said it isn’t even funny.
The movie just assumes, like it’s women, that the audience is too stupid to realize that. We will just accept that he needs to change even though the plot hasn’t convinced us of it. Instead we feel manipulated and unsatisfied with the ending for Jennifer Garner.
This movie sucks because the lead character is unlikable and stays unlikable. The twisting of a classic story into this premise is insulting and stupid. The writing isn’t funny. The character doesn’t work because he isn’t shown anything different from his life?
He is not offered a new perspective or shown how he is wrong. He is merely shown more of how he lives his life. It’s like if Scrooge was just taken to various counting houses he’d worked at over the years. Sure that would make him change and yet the movie expects us to buy that?
Women are treated like objects to check off a list and then it tries to redeem itself by making the jerk a good guy and all the women readily forgive him as if we are all sheep and he is leading us off a cliff. And the dialogue for the women is insufferable.
There is no chemistry between Garner and McConaughey or any of the other women. Nothing is funny. Nothing is clever. There is no skill in any of the movie making at all.
I saw this piece of junk in the theater- yes you read right I saw this in the theater with friends and it made me so angry I wanted to throw popcorn at the screen. To take a story about ultimate redemption and turn it into a booty call is insulting. What were they thinking? I’ll tell you what they were thinking- they assumed we were all so stupid that we wouldn’t care that it had lazy characters, stupid story, pandering writing, stupid women and a story that doesn’t make sense.
So, that’s the worst Christmas Carol movie I’ve ever seen and will always be on my short list of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It’s trash. Complete trash. Nobody was trying to make a good movie here. There is no spark, no effort, no creativity. Nothing. On top of everything it’s actually even kind of boring. There’s just nothing. It’s an insult to the name of Dickens.