Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

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Not recommended under 15 (Sexual references and coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
  • a review of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 May 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Children under 15 Not recommended due to sexual references and coarse language

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Sexual references
Length 100 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is a fashion photographer and notorious playboy, with a passion for women and distaste for commitment. His role model is his Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), now dead, but also a playboy in his time.

When Connor’s younger brother Paul (Breckin Meyer) decides to get married, Connor tries to talk him out of it and almost succeeds until the night before the wedding, when Connor is visited by Uncle Wayne’s ghost. Uncle Wayne urges Connor not to follow in his footsteps and end up as a lonely old man. To make his point, Uncle Wayne sends three ghosts to guide Connor through his past, present and future.  This forces Connor to realise that love is far more important than what he had previously thought.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Ghosts; Playboy lifestyle

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • A girl slaps Connor across the face.
  • A woman bangs Connor’s head against the steering wheel of a car.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In the future Connor watches his own funeral – he gets pushed into the grave and dirt is thrown into his face. He wakes up screaming.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed about the idea of Connor seeing his own funeral and being buried.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed about the idea of Connor seeing his own funeral and being buried.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are numerous sexual references in this movie, many of them crude, including:

  • much candid talk about sex and sexual experiences
  • talk of ‘screwing’ women

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • women in scanty underwear - suspenders and stockings - posing for a photo shoot
  • passionate kissing in bed
  • Connor is in seen bed with a woman. They obviously have sex but nothing is actually shown.
  • Connor touches a woman’s breasts at a party.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • drinking throughout the movie
  • Uncle Wayne takes a young Connor to a bar and gives him an alcoholic drink

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Oh God
  • screw
  • crap
  • arse
  • arsehole
  • prick

In a nutshell

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is an entertaining romantic comedy, which borrows freely from Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. Although not recommended for younger adolescents, it has a good message for older adolescents and young adults.
The main message from this movie is that a lifestyle involving casual sex, without love and commitment, leads to loneliness and an empty life.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • love
  • commitment
  • compassion
  • forgiveness

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