In David Mirkin's HEARTBREAKERS, a sweet comedy which plays like a
lighthearted version of THE GRIFTERS, Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love
Hewitt are a mother/daughter pair of con artists. Although they scam for
everything from food to gas, their specialty is marriage settlements.
When we first meet our connivers, Max (Weaver) is marrying Dean Cumanno (Ray
Liotta), a respectable New Jersey chop shop owner. When his new secretary,
Page (Hewitt), entices him into a little oral sex, his wife of 18 hours
arrives to catch them in the act. "Honey, it isn't what it looks like
here," Dean tries to explain to Max. "Her hair got stuck in my zipper."
Cut to the lawyers office in which Max leaves with a chunk of cash and one
of Dean's freshly built Mercedes.
Although they look like Mutt and Jeff with their dramatic height difference,
Weaver and Hewitt are a convincing and funny choice as relatives and rivals.
The rebellious Page thinks that Max treats her like a little kid, and Max
thinks that Page isn't ready to go solo like she plans. Their confidence
games are quite believable. Max looks like someone who would sweep you off
your feet into an early marriage proposal. And Page, with her lovely legs,
micro skirts and ERIN BROCKOVICH-type bras that push her generous breasts
skyward, looks like someone who might tempt even the most married of married
men. In short, the deliciously caustic chemistry between Weaver and Hewitt
is the best part of the movie.
The weakest link, other than the excessive running time, is the supporting
cast. Although Liotta is impressive, most of the others are either
underutilized or miscast. Anne Bancroft delivers a wooden performance as an
IRS agent who forces the two crooks into their most ambitious scam ever.
Jason Lee (ALMOST FAMOUS), who isn't given much to do as the only guy with
whom Page ever falls in love, phones in his performance.
As a cliché of a rich old geezer with yellow teeth, Gene Hackman coughs his
way through his part as William B. Tensy, a tobacco company CEO with
millions to burn. If he will just live long enough to tie the knot with
Max, she and her daughter will be able to pay their back taxes and live on
easy street for the rest of their lives. But Page hates the whole idea.
"I'm not dating the walking dead," she bitterly informs her mother, who
replies, "we better work fast."
In Tensy's most memorable line, he reveals the secret of what really turns
on a tobacco millionaire -- "smoke billowing out of a woman's hot, red
nostrils." The image almost makes the unflappable, non-smoking Max gag.
Gag isn't something you will do while watching this brightly written comedy.
HEARTBREAKERS isn't any laugh riot, but it is entertaining fun. It's the
sort of picture that will leave you with a smile on your face and a feeling
that you got your money's worth.
HEARTBREAKERS runs needlessly long at 2:03. It is officially rated PG-13
for sex-related content including dialogue, and with scenes of oral sex and
bondage, this is certainly a film unsuitable for those under 13.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes