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Heartbreakers
2001 - PG-13 - 120 Mins.
Director: David Mirkin
Producer: John Davis, Irving Ong, Scott Kroopf, John Friendly
Written By: Robert Dunn, Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur, Scott Buck, David Mirkin, Phil Alden Robinson
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee
Review by: David Trier
   
Nothing much was to be expected of this horrid little film and it delivered in this respect quite well, dishing up enough mindless crap to sufficiently damage the world's IQ.

Max (Sigourney Weaver) and her daughter Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt) are a con team. Max seduces men into marriage and Page sets them up to be caught cheating. Hohoho, that's so cute. When they seem to have run out of money, they decide to pull one last con and live out the American dream of not working for a living. They're victim is a chain smoking old slob named William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman). Max pretends to be a Russian woman in need of a green card and Page will pretend to be his maid. Their hope is that the old man will die and leave his fortune (more on this later). But a few problems get in the way - the old man may cough to death before the marriage, Page might be falling in love with the victim of her side-con, Jack (Jason Lee), and the last victim, Dean (Ray Liotta), has arrived for revenge. When the Tensy deal falls through, Max hopes to at least swindle Jack. Dean joins the con to get his money back and Page reluctantly participates because her mother has convinced her money is more important than love. For reasons beyond human comprehension, Jack has asked Page to marry him, so the con is pretty easy to set. When it turns out that Jack really loves Page, Max has to drug him into bed to complete the con. In the end, regret is expressed (a formal apology may still be pending) and everyone lives happily ever after. Except Tensy, who's dead.

I've seen a lot of decent flicks lately and quite frankly it's refreshing to be able to slam a film like this so wholeheartedly. Pretty much everything thart's wrong with society and the American cinema is flaunted embarrassingly in Heartbreakers. But to be fair, there are some parts that are watchable if it shows up on UPN on a Sunday afternoon ten years from now. The beginning of the film is very entertaining and reasonably funny. Ray Liotta holds the film together as best he can, although his character is nowhere to be seen throughout the middle of the story. But his consistent energy and good timing makes him the most entertaining of badly written characters. Two small parts are entertaining enough to be worth mentioning. Nora Dunn is terrific as Miss Madress, Tensy's "house manager" and Michael Hitchcock is very funny as a wimpy rich man. Jennifer Love Hewitt remains completely jumpable from beginning to end, blessed by a costume designer that understands the intellectual details of a nice rack and a cute butt. Hewitt's contribution to acting is still under review, but more blame should go to the crayon-toting writer in this case. Regardless, any heterosexual male and several homosexuals should enjoy watching her (some might take notes). Jason Lee (Almost Famous) is probably one of the most gifted naturalists in his circle, but the character of Jack is so unbelievable, the product is only frustrating. In only a few encounters, he manages to fall in love with and propose to a woman who's been nothing but rude and ignorant (more on this later). Gene Hackman, generally an asset to any film, carries his assanine dirty old man role just fine, but it isn't funny. It's just camp. And his role is much smaller than the marketing campaign would care to admit. Sigourney Weaver, also generally an asset to any film, is just not very good in the role of Max. Even though the role defies reality on so many levels, her performance is one of a star who signed to a script she didn't read and feels insecure about playing an older woman. The director tries to parade her around in sexy outfits but the result is uncomfortable if not depressing. Her stints pretending to be Russian to get the marriage con is also a miserable defeat. The accent is irritating (and bad) and again the myth is reinforced that you can get a green card in a day with no paperwork. I hate that.

First and foremost, the film's biggest problem is that there is only one likeable character, and by that I mean there are two half-likeable characters. Ray Liotta plays a scumbag but his quirkiness and the fact that he got conned makes you want to root for him. Jason Lee is very likeable, but so stupid you sort of want to kill him. The ones we're supposed to be grinning at, are the most despicable of them all. The idea that Max could be anyone's mother is horrifying and the resulting Page is little more than a spoiled brat. Max repeatedly has her daughter put herself in rape-me-please situations so they can con people and that has to be ten times more illegal than theft itself. I must have been absent the day it was determined that tricking people into thinking that they're loved and then robbing them was funny. At any rate, that seems to be the only joke in the film. Oh no, it's also funny when an old man dies and they drop him out a window. Oh oh, wait, what about when Max poisons her daughter's boyfriend so she can see them in a sexual embrace? Family film of the year.

This is a movie about vindicating people who profit from hurting people. It professes that women can be heartless, brainless, and immoral as long as they serve a sexual purpose and that men are lucky to have them anyway because men are all idiots.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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