A great romantic-comedy is like getting a pep-talk on love. Of course some so-called ‘chick flicks’ function as little more than R-rated versions of fairytales, possibly credited for ruining romances. Still, beneath the delusions of rich princes and gorgeous damsels remains a story communicating the difficulties of relationships.
So, what does that story look like today? In a society so afraid of divorce and commitment, where ‘hooking up’ serves as a casual term of modern relationship lingo, what can a film really say about love? Honestly, how can a genre where the main goal and event centers around a wedding or a future wedding provide insight for a commitment-phobia world?
Forgiving the silly title, ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’ may have a few answers and stars the king of romantic-comedies ‘- the only guy that can be a complete asshole and yet we still somehow adore him ‘- Matthew McConaughey. Also balancing him out with her utter charm, Jennifer Garner and, wait, Michael Douglas as the dead player uncle. Yes, it sounds completely frivolous and gimmicky, because it is. Anyone who knows the inspirational piece heavy-handedly stolen from ‘A Christmas Carol’ may shy away from some jokester’s romantic adaptation.
Yet the film might just have the utter honesty needed to touch a romantic-reality starved viewer of today. The film is definitely no ‘Casablanca,’ but it does deal with the state of relationships. In a world of text messaging and Facebook, it’s hard to reconnect with the vulnerability of falling for someone. Men and women have built a force-field of self-grandeur and self-preservation that forbids the freeing of one’s heart and mind. Maybe we go to films to feel this once again.
The great thing about ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’ ‘- besides a funny, philandering Michael Douglas ‘- is that it throws our own conventions back in our face. It embodies the stereotypical players and pawns of the romantic playing field and asks us one important question: How do you crazy people expect to fall in love this way? For, in the end (literally), those who truly love do so selflessly and hoping the other person feels the same. This film reminds us of this risk and, encouragingly, of the gain. ‘