Heartbreakers is a female spin on those con-man movies that crop up now and again. You’ve all seen at least a few of them. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Sting, The Good The Bad And The Ugly and Dragonheart are probably the most famous movies that play on the theme of a duo extracting financial gain out of wealthy/gullable benefactors without their knowledge of being conned. However, Heartbreakers is different in that the duo are both female, they use their bodies to con money out of gullable men and are a mother and daughter relationship. Unfortunately, the premise is the most interesting aspect of Heartbreakers.
Sigourney Weaver plays Maxine Conners, mother of young beauty Page Conners (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Together, the Conners are a successful team of con-artists and have a fool-proof plan.
1) Maxine attaches herself to a wealthy bachelor.
2) Within a few months they are married.
3) Page then seduces Maxine’s husband, Maxine catches them at it and divorces the husband for a huge settlement.
4) The husband, fearing the detrimental effect to his reputation, gives Maxine whatever she wants, without knowing that Maxine and Page are related and that he is one of their many victims.
5) Maxine and Page move on to the next unsuspecting rich soul.
Maxine and Page have just finished scamming poor Dean Cummano (Ray Liotta in a nice comedy turn for a change) and Page has decided to go solo now that she is old enough. Unfortunately, the IRS has other plans, and the two owe more than three hundred thousand dollars. Against her will, Page decides to help her mother pay off the debt with one more con – cigarette obsessed billionaire William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman). However, Dean is determined to win back Maxine’s love, and Page has love problems of her own in the form of Jack Withrowe (the oh-so-cool Jason Lee) who she is priming to be her first con.
Heartbreakers is presented as an out-and-out comedy, but you’d struggle to find anything that is more than just mildly amusing. The cast is particularly strong and turn in good performances, but even they cannot save the predictable and highly unoriginal script. Sigourney Weaver is extremely sexy as Maxine Connors, and seems almost destined to one day take over the role of Mrs. Robinson for the West End production of The Graduate. Jennifer Love Hewitt seems aptly cast, as her character’s bitchy treatment of Jack seems like she is playing herself anyhow. Ray Liotta is obviously enjoying himself and hams up every line of dialogue they throw at him. However, after eating his own brain in Hannibal, it’s impossible not to treat Liotta as a twenty-first century legend. Jason Lee has always shined in whatever film he is in, and fans of Kevin Smith films where he so often appears will delight in the fact that he now seems to be offered stand-alone roles and not ones related to the Askew universe. How the makers ever convinced such a brilliant actor as Gene Hackman to appear in what is just a small role is anyone’s guess, but he effortlessly turns in a good performance. Cameo spotters should take note that Jeffrey Jones, Carrie Fisher and Anne Bancroft also appear.
Heartbreakers is a mildly entertaining romp, but the film’s flaws lie not with the actors but the script and direction. The script, as already mentioned, contains no surprises and hardly any memorable gags. You’d be hard pressed to walk out of the cinema laughing about it with your friends. Also, many scenes feel extremely contrived, such as Jason Lee falling in love with hard-as-nails Jennifer Love Hewitt in a matter of nanoseconds and the divorce settlement court cases occurring almost immediately after the relative adultery. The direction by David Mirkin is confused, and some scenes feel disjointed and do not pander to the same type of comedy that other scenes in the film do. You can spot Mirkin’s TV origins, and the fact that he is relatively inexperienced when it comes to movies (his only other film being Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
Heartbreakers had potential, but most of the film is delivered flatly and fails to hit its targets. You might enjoy it if you’re suffering from amnesia or haven’t seen any other comedy/con-man films before it, even though it is highly forgettable anyway.