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Movie Review

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past a.k.a. “Der Womanizer—Die Nacht der Ex-Freundinnen,” “Hanté par ses ex,” “Los fantasmas de mi ex,” “Minhas Adoráveis Ex-namoradas,” “Ta fantasmata ton proin”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content throughout, some language and a drug reference.

Reviewed by: Cheryl Rakowski, M.Ed.

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Romance, Comedy
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
May 1, 2009 (wide—3,000 theaters)
DVD: September 22, 2009
Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema Copyright, New Line Cinema
Relevant Issues
Copyright, New Line Cinema

Ghosts in the Bible



Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

True love

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Marriage in the Bible

Is formalized marriage becoming obsolete? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Emma Stone, Michael Douglas, Breckin Meyer, Lacey Chabert, Robert Forster, Anne Archer, more »
Director: Mark Waters—“Mean Girls,” “Freaky Friday,” “Just Like Heaven”
Producer: New Line Cinema, Brad Epstein, Jonathan Shestack, Jessica Tuchinsky, Marcus Viscidi
Distributor: New Line Cinema

“You can’t always run from your past.”

I knew going into this movie that it was going to be heavily attended. The theater I went to was jam packed with teenage girls-everywhere. The movie began with Matthew McConaughey, playing as a famous model photographer, Connor Mead. Connor is a man who doesn’t believe in love or marriage but believes very much in shallow, physical relationships with countless women. He uses women for his own pleasure without regard for their feelings or well-being.

The majority of the storyline takes place at his dead uncle’s residence—a beautiful mansion where his younger brother is getting married to the woman of his dreams. The women in the wedding party are just as shallow and immoral as Connor Mead, with the exception of Connor’s old love, Jenny, played by Jennifer Garner. Connor is supposed to be his brother’s best man at the wedding, but his lack of feeling and disregard for others causes him to nearly ruin his brother’s wedding.

In the mean time, Connor is visited in the bathroom by his dead Uncle Wayne, played by Michael Douglas. He appears in ghost form and informs Connor of the impending visits he will receive that evening from three ghosts. One ghost takes him to the past, one to the present, and one to the future, to show him the damage he has done by his lack of care for all the women in his life. It takes a lot for him to see the pain he has inflicted by his repulsive behavior.

I won’t spoil the ending by telling what happens next. I will say that Connor shows some redemptive qualities in the end, which give the Christian audience a glimmer of hope. God can make beauty from ashes. (No Christian references are made in this movie.)


This movie is coated with sexual jokes, sexual references, and provocative behavior. Fornication is an everyday occurrence in the lives of these characters. Marriage is portrayed as a worthless event, not intended for the intelligent man or woman. Instead, just living life to the fullest and sleeping with whomever you like is glamorized. The movie also portrays women as shallow, desperate, and aggressive—something you would not want your teenage daughter to be. The quest to “catch” a woman is all part of the game Connor’s dead uncle taught him as a young boy. This teaching and encouragement to drink alcohol as a minor constitutes child abuse. One of the ghosts mentions that child protective services should have been called.

Excessive drinking of alcohol is rampant in this movie. The cast use vulgarity and curse words throughout the film. One gay character has a short, one line appearance. The funniest lines in the movie are what you already saw on the trailers for the movie. This movie was somewhat boring to me, and I typically love a good romance story. Even without all the repetitive, inappropriate sexual content and vulgar language, this movie would still be dull and predictable. The slight redemptive changes that Connor makes in the end don’t make up for all negatives throughout the movie. Save your money for something worthwhile, because “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” isn’t it.

Scripture to think about

“So put to death the sinful, Earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires…”—Colossians 3:5 (NLT version)

God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. —Matthew 5:8

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I’m going to have to disagree with the comments of the reviewer and some others on the moral quality of this film. Warning: Explaining why may give away some spoilers, but because the film is obviously based on the well-known work of Charles Dickens, I won’t be saying anything that might not logically be guessed from the title of the film.

One of my complaints about much of Hollywood is that premarital sex is almost never presented as sin and just as seldom is it shown as something that has negative consequences, other than possibly pregnancy. That is not the case in this film. The main character here is Connor Mead, an extreme womanizer and obviously not someone worthy of emulation. One of his role models, unfortunately, was his late uncle, about as poor of a role model as they come. They use women incessantly, and, at least at first, they’re proud of it.

But the uncle died an unhappy man, and Connor is well on his way. He thinks he’s happy, but in fact his life of sin was quickly taking him nowhere emotionally. What this movie is about is his growth toward repentance. It’s very difficult for him at first. He has worked very hard to convince himself he’s happy and that what he’s doing isn’t wrong. But the truth is that he’s an empty man. His sin is taking its toll, and he comes to realize that if he doesn’t repent not only will his life have no meaning, but he’ll end up all alone at the end of life without any hope. He realizes he’ll literally be damned.

God’s prohibits extramarital sex not to spoil our fun, but because among other things it’s harmful to people and isn’t God’s best for them, and this movie (without any mention of God, of course) explains that quite well. This movie explains why the kind of life that Connor was living isn’t good. Connor kicks and screams all the way to repentance, but in the end he sees the folly of promiscuity. He even ends up seeing marriage as a positive thing. How often does that happen in a Hollywood film?

Yes, there are some double entendres and crude language. But they’re far milder than what you’d expect of people living the kind of life these empty people were living. Even within the confines of a PG-13 rating, it would have been possible to make this a much, much sleazier movie. The sexual activity is implied rather than shown, and what is shown instead is the heartbreak that promiscuity can bring.

If you see only the sin going on this movie, and there’s plenty, you’re missing the point. The film’s viewpoint is one that’s surprisingly refreshing for Hollywood.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Eric, age 55 (USA)
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie and got a good laugh out of it. It could’ve come together better for me, the script needed some work, and in the end I was left thinking that Jennifer Garner’s character deserved better than him and should aim a little higher, or make him prove himself as worthy, and not just take his word for it. But overall, I was entertained.

There’s no denying that the movie contains sexual content. I thought the movie provided a lot of fodder for discussion—especially with teens and college aged kids. While Hollywood just can’t get it right, without knowing it, they grappled with the themes of the book of Ecclesiastes, monogomy, marriage, love and self respect. I didn’t think this movie glorified sexual immorality. In fact, it presented it as shallow and empty. I was a little surprised the reviewer gave this movie a rating of “heavy” in the sexuality category. This was a movie that had a lot of talking about sex. I think as adults if we want to help the next generation, this is a topic we need to get comfortable dealing with and talking about. A recent survey showed some 70% of evangelical teens in church youth groups have had sex, a % equal to unchurched teens.

This is a great movie to look at and evaluate—like what separates Jennifer Garner’s characters from the bridesmaids, what do you think it would take for Matt’s character to genuinely change and to be a faithful loving husband, what is sex for, what happens when it’s abused, how do you think Jen’s character felt when she woke up and he was gone (she thought she could trust him then—but he still left—great lead in to marriage commitment), why are the main characters getting married, what do you think about Matt’s character’s derisive comments about marriage, why do these women fall for him… So much potential here to then talk about what God wants for us, and intended for us in marriage, and what sex is for. And that’s not even touching on the perverted sex crazed uncle’s character—a feast for conversation in a society that glorifies Heffner and gives his beauties their own TV show.

So yes, there’s some offensive content. But it’s a far cry from the “40 Year Old Virgin” or “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” (couldn’t believe that was PG-13) I guess proceed cautiously knowing yourself.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—jenny, age 33 (USA)
Neutral—“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” had a very good point to the movie, which was “living it up” with all the women you want is not satisfying in the end. Unfortunately, you also had to see a LOT of sexual content, sexual jokes, sexual innuendos, etc. I do not recall any actual sex scenes or any nudity, but several of the women are partially dressed for a while in the movie and there are some scenes that look like they are leading to sex. There is one scene in bed after they had sex. There is quite a bit of language and GD was said once. Even though there was a good message at the end of the movie, I would not want to watch it again because of all the sexual content. If you are going to see it, please don’t take your husband or boyfriend and definitely not your sons.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Rebecca, age 28 (USA)
Negative—I wish that I’d have read the review on Christian Spotlight before attending this movie. It was rather boring, the best scenes are on the trailer, and it is full of sexual humor and glorifies immorality. There is very little redeemable value to this movie. Don’t waste your money and do not let teenagers view this.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Sarah Modisett Lee, age 43 (USA)
Negative—This movie is… unappealing, between the countless innuendos and womanizing. The film falls flat, on so many planes. Characters you don’t give two rats about, uninspired directing, predicable through and through. Yadda yadda yadda. So I did what any disgruntled moviegoer would do. I walked out. I sat in The Soloist instead.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back (it doesn’t take many) is Michael Douglas making a big production about the awesome and unwieldly might of his “johnson.” This is when Ghosts doesn’t even jump the shark, it runs straight into it. But perhaps that threshold is violated long before that, like when the opening credits roll? Now, understand, Sheen’s character is essentially Hugh Hefner—just as old, wrinkly, and promiscuous. His protege is the leading man Matthew Mc. The blind lead the blind in this secular tale of seedy proportions. I say go see Wolverine instead.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Keenum, age 22 (USA)
Negative—There was nothing redeeming about this movie. It was crude, rude, and crass and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The previews made it seem like a cute romantic comedy NOT! I think the writing was awful and the acting just as bad. The women in this movie are portrayed as stupid, bubble-headed over sexed, foul and with absolutely no self-respect. McConnaughey was so unlikeable that even after the visitations he left such a bad impression in your mind you really didn’t trust his change of heart. The bridesmaids were so low class and the bride was crazed, it was so overdone it was unbelievable.

Jennifer Garner’s character was the only one you could like, but in the end, I felt like yelling to her on the screen don’t believe him! On the spiritual plane, God’s name was taken in vain, of course, but the essence of the movie was as far from purity as you can get. A woman left the theater the same time I did and said to her 10 yr. daughter “I guess I’m batting a 1000 with my movie choices, I will have to do better next time.” I could not believe she didn’t walk out in the first 10 min. when Matthew Mc Connaughey was undressing a young woman to expose her body and latter try to have sex with her. Michael Douglas was DISGUSTING!!!… He was a dirty old man.

Charles Dickens must be rolling in his grave. This could have been a wonderful movie like “A Christmas Carol” showing what one can become when they re-examine their lives and make the right changes to be the best they can be.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Sharon M Usltad, age 49 (USA)