The header’s a joke. You can’t honestly think I’m going to praise these jerks, right?
Here’s a giant spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t been bored enough to watch the movie. Don’t continue reading this if you are gullible enough to actually not see the plot and ending coming just by glancing at the title.
Anyway, in the film, a takeoff of A Christmas Carol (somewhere, Charles Dickens and Alistair Sim are shredding People magazine’s 2005 Sexiest Man Alive issue just so McConaughey can see how they feel) involves McConaughey playing an inveterate womanizer who is visited by, duh, girlfriends from his past. McConaughey’s character, Connor Mead, royally screwed things up with Jennifer Garner, his childhood best friend and the love of his life. Of course, at the end, he realizes the error of his ways, saves the day and Garner’s character, Jenny Perotti, falls back under his spell.
Even I’m not self-centered enough to waste your time reviewing a movie that came out a year ago. But here’s what it made me think of: Why was I so drawn to watching this movie? And why does Hollywood keep making movies about indecisive man-children (or is it men-children?)?
The first answer is pretty obvious, if you read my earlier post about the many male friends whose confidence I built up only to shatter later. I love movies like this, including the much funnier and more charming Definitely, Maybe. At some point, I promise to tackle how being a token means not seeing yourself represented on celluloid, but let’s just say this: I’m Jenny Perotti.
Perotti is more of a ringer than a token, but we have a few things in common. She’s smart enough to question Mead’s motives and is able to conduct a close friendship with a male, something done more successfully on screen than in life (at least in my world). Oh, and we love ’80s music, can’t forget that. So I’ll change my original statement to this: I’m Jenny Perotti, KIND OF.
That’s a big KIND OF, because of one reason, which is my main problem with Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: I would NEVER have allowed myself to fall under McConaughey’s spell in the first place.
Now, I know many of you might think that’s unfair, and it is. I haven’t been in Perotti’s position exactly, but I’m not big on giving second chances, especially to jerky guys. I mean, I know it’s a movie and all, but – and here’s where she and I diverge – Perotti is a doctor. She’s gorgeous, accomplished and could easily have her pick of emotionally mature males, but she chooses the supposedly reformed Mead because of what? History? True love? Hey guys, apparently Ali MacGraw had it wrong: Love means being a man-boy with washboard abs and a sincere face.
Not to throw stones at Hollywood, but add me to the chorus of women asking why don’t we ever see movies about indecisive women who are high-school girls trapped in the bodies of middle-aged women? (Other than Garner’s 13 Going On 30, which is pretty atrocious). This is a really good question – I’m allowed to say that because Anna N. at Jezebel asked it first – but ultimately isn’t the point.
Here’s what I want to say: Giving men second chances isn’t overrated. I’m too stubborn to do so, usually (I know someone who is VERY glad I don’t name names here), but men aren’t like dogs. Men are worse. Dogs typically learn after a short amount of time, and if they don’t, you can always give them away or put them to sleep. You have to break up with men, and even after they’ve pulled the same whiny, half-man/half-toddler crap with you, they still want to know why they have to sleep on the couch and not in the bed.
I’m a woman who knows, but let’s take advice from my brilliant, secure, about-to-be-wed pal Melea. She gave me the best piece of guy advice I’ve ever received. She said, “The only trouble I’ve ever had with guys involves ones who don’t know what they want.”
I’m not saying guys don’t change, but I am saying they don’t change after one night, not even if they’re visited by three ghouls from their romantic lives. I actually pity Perotti for being so clouded by “love” that she falls for Mead’s routine new outlook. If this wasn’t a movie, Mead wouldn’t have learned a thing and would be claiming he’s changed just to sleep with Perotti and slip out of the bed before she woke up…AGAIN.
We’re supposed to sympathize with Mead because he was afraid to love. GROW UP. Apparently his parents died when he was a kid and that’s why he was afraid love would slip away. I would excuse that if Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was a penetrating character study or a psychological thriller and not a popcorn flick. Plus, as if fear of something great is an excuse! That ONLY works in McConaughey movies.
I didn’t expect Ghosts of Girlfriends Past to change my life or move me to tears, but I didn’t expect the movie to make me realize all over again why I can’t stand men who can’t stand up…for anything. I didn’t expect to relive every whiny text message and e-mail and stolen glance from guys who just couldn’t walk up to me and say, “I like you,” and instead chose to leave me voicemails on Valentine’s Day about how they hope I’m not with another guy (true story).
Oh, and to all of you diehard romantics who say I’m cynical, a feminazi or just plain mean: You might be right. If you took your guy back after he changed and it worked out, I’m genuinely happy for you. We all learn, and change, and maybe one day I’ll evolve and give in to love, but I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be with a jerk who couldn’t figure out how he felt about me only to break my heart and then come back seeking redemption. I’m no one’s study guide. I have a huge chip on my shoulder and it’s begging for some dip. Thanks, McConaughey.
I do think some guys learn and I do believe that some of them actually change. I even believe that guys who have girlfriends and simultaneously sleep in bed with girls they’re “just friends with” have potential to one day become worthwhile romantic leads. My point is that, for women, the best offense is a good defense. Why couldn’t Perotti think for more than 30 seconds before she decided to make things work with Mead? Why is Mead rewarded for learning his lesson despite his prior despicable behavior? Even Scrooge had to get his hands a little dirty before all was forgiven.
I’m guessing Perotti suffers from that crippling demand to do it all and have it all that lots of working women endure. She must be blinded by her own low self-esteem. As awful as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was, I’d like to see a sequel in which Perotti kicks Mead to the curb and ends up with a real man, one who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to have it, or her.