Film (with rating): Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (PG-13)
Studio: Warner Home Video
Summary: A good-looking lothario (Matthew McConaughey) feels no need to settle down, until a few ghosts from his past show him the error of his ways.
Review: Once again, Matthew McConaughey portrays a handsome, Texas-drawling, chiseled commitmentphobe who is found irresistible by the opposite sex. Yeah, he’s really stretching the acting muscle here playing Connor Mead in “Ghosts.” To say he’s typecast in this film is an understatement. But McConaughey fans will find no fault with his performance, however recycled it may be.
The film itself is a bit predictable, and falls flat too many times for my taste, but it does offer a mindless romp into romantic comedy. Director Mark Waters (“Mean Girls” fame) seems a bit confused–does he wants to make “Ghosts” a true comedy, or more of a funny yet moralistic piece about growing up and learning what matters?
In the end, “Ghosts” comes across as a bit of “A Christmas Carol” (sorry, Dickens!) blended with every single other rom-com McConaughey has tacked his name to. Jennifer Garner, who plays Connor’s childhood love, does what she can with the material and helps keep “Ghosts” afloat. But her performance feels secondary, unfortunately. After “13 Going on 30,” I became a fan of her romantic-comedy chops.
Michael Douglas, who has a small yet pivotal role as Connor’s womanizing uncle, shows up as a ghost to help lead Connor down the path of recognition and repentance. Douglas’ performance is a highlight of the film and not to be missed.
Overall, “Ghosts” isn’t going to teach you any earth-shattering life lessons (other than don’t be a jerk), nor is it going to sprain your brain in an attempt to understand the subplots. Just watch it for some mindless entertainment, McConaughey’s abs and a quick escape from this relentless heat wave outside.
Extra highlight: none
What to serve for dinner: Since McConaughey’s voice, dripping with twang, is now linked to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association commercials, let’s grill up some steak. For kicks, say his line with a heavy Southern drawl: “Beef: It’s what’s for dinner.”
Balsamic-Marinated Sirloin and Asparagus (http://www.txbeef.org)
* 1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick (about 1-1/4 lbs.)
* 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
* 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
* 2 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
* 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
* 1 clove garlic, crushed
* 1/2 tsp. sugar
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/8 tsp. pepper
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, basil, mustard, garlic and sugar to make marinade. Place steak and 1/3-cup of the marinade in a sealable plastic bag. Close bag securely, turn to coat steak and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to two hours, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.
Meanwhile, bring one inch of water to a boil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook two to three minutes or until asparagus is just crisp-tender. Drain asparagus and combine with the reserved marinade tossing to coat.
Remove steak from marinade and discard unused marinade. Grill over medium heal or medium coals. Grill uncovered for 16-20 minutes for medium rare, turning once. During the last three minutes, arrange asparagus on the grill and cook for three minutes, turning once. Season with salt and pepper. Carve the steak crosswise into slices and serve with asparagus.
What to talk about over dinner: Have you ever needed to be shown the error of your ways? What regretful thing did you do in your youth? Are you or have you been a womanizer? What was the worst way you ever broke up with someone? How about during a conference call? Why do you think Matthew McConaughey keeps getting headlining work? Is he that talented, or just gorgeous? Is it fair that he keeps getting leading romantic roles when he’s nearing 40 when women that age in this industry are not? What do you make of that? What was your favorite romantic comedy ever? Have you seen Bill Murray’s “Scrooged?” What “SNL” alum has or had the best career?