Directed by David Mirkin
For a movie about two con-artist chicks running a marriage scam to bilk rich men out of big bucks and fancy cars, Heartbreakers, oddly enough, has a lot of heart. Adding to the entertainment quotient is a great cast that clearly enjoys playing around with the lighthearted material.
In the Name of Love
Max (Sigourney Weaver, the Alien series) and Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt, I Know What You Did Last Summer) are a mother-daughter tag team. Max seduces wealthy men into marriage. Page then comes along as a temptress and is the catalyst for exorbitant divorce settlements.
Weaver and Hewitt might seem like an odd combination at first, but they pull the job off nicely. The chemistry between them allows for a real sense of heart as they bicker – and play – together. One minute Max coldly trips Page in a hotel hallway in a scam to get free lodging because of the hotel's "slippery" floor, the next minute they're in their room engaging in a playful bout of wrestling.
While Weaver has mined comedic territory before, most notably in Working Girl, it is nice to see Hewitt gunning for a breakout from her previous teenage claptrap.
The plot thickens as the dynamic duo find themselves audited by the IRS and in arrears on taxes due from their unethical occupation. To top it off, their last mark, Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta, Hannibal), wants revenge. He's never been dumped and he's having difficulty dealing with this new development.
After the divorce from Dean proves less lucrative than they hoped, Max picks an aging, hacking, chain-smoking billionaire by the name of William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman, Get Shorty) for some quick cash. Hackman's character brings to mind an older, age-weary version of Lex Luthor, the maniacal world-dominator he played in the first two Superman movies. As with Luthor, Hackman relishes the chance to once again ham it up – and wear incredibly ugly pea green socks.
Page is none too pleased with this disgusting object of romance and takes it upon herself to show Mom she can "do the job" all on her own. Her pick: Jack (Jason Lee, Almost Famous), a laidback bartender sitting on millions. Jack is an incredibly nice, smart young man and of course he falls for the idiotic, shallow young woman with an attitude in a heartbeat.
The romantic situations are naturally far-fetched in both cases, but their implausibility is forgiven as they provide for some genuinely funny moments. To wit: Max tries to pawn herself off as a Russian seductress and winds up with the billionaire in a Russian restaurant, with no knowledge of the Russian language. When mistakenly identified as a "volunteer" to sing with the restaurant's band, Max sidesteps a traditional Russian tune in favor of… Back in the USSR. The scene then plays as a quasi-concert video and captures the happy-go-lucky spirit of the movie.
Born to Run
Heartbreakers is a smooth, sassy concoction built for laughs. The screenplay gamely plays off its premise and builds one scam on top of another, providing for some pleasant surprises along the way. This isn't high-brow, elitist comedy, but it also manages to sidestep the glaringly offensive low-brow material as well.
While the movie does drag a bit at times, it doesn't wear out its welcome thanks to a cast that is simply fun to watch. To a set of characters best described as a collection of conniving, egotistical, selfish brats, the cast manages to bring a fun-loving amiability that is hard to resist.
• Originally published at MovieHabit.com.