I felt sorry for all the actors... except McConaughey
Dec 8, 2009
I expected this to be lame-but-funny in a "Kate and Leopald" kind of way, but instead it was a still-smoking trainwreck in a "Fools Gold" kind of way. Fans of William Goldman know his mantra about how a bad film can result from a good script, but McConaughey films are starting to show that a terrible script can be made into unwatchable crap if enough miscast people are thrown in.
Hollywood obviously loves Dickens since (1) he's classic, (2) he's dead, and (3) his copyright is sitting in his urn, so is prime for raping - sorry, I mean 're-imagining'. The original story of redemption, lost love and transformation is kicked square in the unspeakables here with a pitch that must have sounded like: "A like totally hot fashion photographer with all these superhot babes is asked to his ugly brother's wedding and he screws it up like pooch-style but then it's like the Scrooge thing. You know, Scrooge? It just writes itself darling."
Ok, ok, I'm backing off the coffee. So wow, where to start. Well, everyone knows about the Christmas Carol concept and how it's been mercilessly ripped off over the years usually to good effect - a combination of the Muppets Christmas Carol and Scrooged should be enough to get anyone into the festive spirit. The interesting part about GoGP is that it highlights some key parts of the story that must stay intact for the whole thing to work (Dickens would love this):
Whoever the Scrooge replacement is must be redeemable, plausible and likeable to a degree. Bill Murray pulls this off with Frank Cross ("You're a hallucination brought on by Russian vodka poisoned by Chernobyl!"). McConaughey is squirmingly bad for both men and women to watch. This is essential since the character transformation in the timespan of a movie isn't realistic.
The ghosts must actually be dead and not previously connected with Scrooge, since they're essentially narrating for the audience. Having ghosts that are partly dead but also alive (yes, they did) undermines the external nature of the way they work in the plot. GoGP had a first girlfriend who may have killed herself as a teenager, a second who was his current secretary (never girlfriend) and third - the future ghost - as someone he never dates. This doesn't work.
The pacing of Dickens' story is essential - too much frontloading makes the backend seem unlikely and not enough setup doesn't give us the opportunity to care. This film manages to make both mistakes at the same time, and I still can't figure out how.
There are a million other problems with the movie. Scrooge is a fashion photographer who takes world class pictures without looking through a viewfinder, using a basic Nikon SLR (with the lens that came in the Costco package, interestingly enough). Michael Douglas doesn't work here either. And as for the rush in Act 3 to make everything right again, it feels so forced that the editor must be been replaced with the automated-mode of Muvee Magic.
And - AND! - even the cover of the DVD is a ripoff of Pretty Woman but they didn't do the half-naked tie-across-the-neck-to-cover-the-join-of-the-body-replacement- thing for Jennifer Garner, who's also becoming unwatchable. I'd love to do a Scrooge ripoff about a Hollywood executive who makes money for making Scrooge ripoffs...
Imagine a unique blend of A Christmas Carol and Hugh Hefner after eating way too much pizza with the works too late at night and his resulting nightmares and you have an idea of the plot line in Ghosts. McConaughy plays his usual character -- confident, sarcastic, intense and charming. Garner plays the girl-next-door all grown up. If you are a fan of both or either, the movie may charm you. And charming it is with clever enough writing and characterization. … more