Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Movie Poster Image

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past



Predictable romcom has some iffy stuff, but OK for teens.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A chauvinistic man who believes that women should be loved and left gets his comeuppance; ultimately, he's persuaded by true love to put his best foot forward.

Positive role models

While the main character is a shameless womanizer, it's clear that he's not meant to be taken seriously as a role model -- and he learns the error of his ways.


A woman slaps a man; two brothers yell at each other; a man crashes his car at the bottom of a hill.


Lots of innuendoes ("spooning isn't as much fun as forking," etc.) and a fair amount of discussion about what women and men want in bed. Deep kissing, though some of it is played for laughs. Characters talk about wanting "wedding sex," a man gropes his brother's future mother-in-law, and scantily clad women prance around a photographer's studio -- later, one of them is seen straddling the photographer and making out with him.


Language includes one use of "s--t," plus "a--hole," "ass," "damn," "hell," "bitch," "laid," "banged," "screwed," "dick," "oh my God," and "goddamn."


A Polaroid camera figures in the plot, and characters mention alcohol brands by name.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character talks about snorting a pile of cocaine (but it's not shown). Characters drink heavily during a wedding weekend, sometimes intentionally to excess. An uncle takes an eighth grader to a bar and orders hard liquor for him.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this predictable romantic comedy about a shameless womanizer who ultimately sees the error of his ways has plenty of innuendo and discussion about sex, though there's more talk than action. Expect to see deep kissing, some groping, and a clothed man being straddled by a scantily clad woman while they make out. There's also some swearing ("bitch," "damn," etc.) and drinking, including a scene in which an uncle buys his eighth-grade nephew a drink in a bar.

What's the story?

Celebrity photographer Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is so slick that he might as well be an oil tanker. He beds women as often as he photographs them, and he never lets himself get involved. Not exactly the kind of guy you'd want to have as your best man, but that's his role at his brother's (Breckin Meyer) upcoming wedding. Connor starts the evening off by sparring with ex-girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Garner), fondling the mother of the bride (Anne Archer), telling his brother he can still back out, and even divulging a huge secret that hurts the bride (Lacey Chabert). No wonder he starts seeing a steady stream of ghosts (a la A Christmas Carol), led by his dead uncle (Michael Douglas), who, when he was alive, taught Connor everything he knew about avoiding commitment.

Is it any good?


GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST hews close to the romantic comedy "rules" -- you know where it's going to end within the first half hour. Which isn't to say the film's a fright. The premise may be tired, the jokes stale, and the script trite ("Pain beats regret every day of the week, and twice on Sunday," for example), but it's actually more amusing than expected thanks to two critical casting choices. First, there's Garner: Quick with verbal volleys and arch reaction shots, she grounds the movie in girl-next-door goodness. The fact that someone like her would like someone like McConaughey's Connor makes us want to believe in what romcoms sell -- love that makes no sense but works anyway. Then there's Douglas, who appears to be channeling both Hugh Hefner and Jack Nicholson. This is the Douglas we adored in Wonder Boys -- no spit-shine, no polish, just rough edges with a hint of sleaze. (Who knew playing sordid could be so fun?)

McConaughey is also relatively solid, but Garner and the supporting characters outshine him, especially Chabert, as a well-meaning woman on the verge of becoming Bridezilla, and Meyer, who adds heart to a frothy script. It's a little off putting to see A Christmas Carol "reimagined" in this manner, but we won't be a Scrooge and say it's all for naught. Truth is, there are enough laughs to entertain, if not enthrall.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about relationships and sex. Why is Connor's behavior so bad? Why do you think he turned out the way he did? And why does Jenny still have feelings for him, considering how he treated her?

  • How is this movie similar to and different from other romantic comedies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 1, 2009
DVD/Streaming release date:September 22, 2009
Cast:Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey
Director:Mark Waters
Studio:New Line
Run time:100 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content throughout, some language and a drug reference

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 12 and 15 year old Written bymeplus2 July 27, 2009

okay for older kids but not under 15

It was a cute enough movie however there was to much sexual content and females with next to no clothes on
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Adult Written bybop July 2, 2010
Way too much sexual content...casual, "no big deal" attitude about unmarried, uncommitted sex
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byPuppygal32 December 31, 2009

14 and up

This is a very funny movie! It has it's sobby moments but, it basically is a comedy...! This movie has a lot of sexual content in it and language is crude and nasty, no F-bombs though! This is for 14 and up!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking