Heartbreakers (2001) / Comedy-Drama

MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sex-related content including dialogue
Running Time: 123 min.

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Gene Hackman, Jason Lee
Director: David Mirkin

Screenplay: Robert Dunn, Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur
Review published September 23, 2001

I seem to remember having seen HEARTBREAKERS before...I think it was called DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS back then though.  Of course, it's a little different here since the main con artists are female, and also mother and daughter, but outside of this the plot of two con artists, the experienced pro and the fledgling student learning the ropes, who swindle the well-to-do out of their money through sheer ingenious trickery, it's basically the same movie.  Oh yes, there is one other notable difference: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS is funny.

Sigourney Weaver plays Max Conners (get it?), mother to Page and once spurned by a no-good man, who got her pregnant and left the two to fend for themselves.  Max teaches Page that men are evil and never to fall in love with one or end up getting hurt.  They spend their time with a successful con game, whereby Max gets wealthy men to marry her while also denying the husband sex, then Page enters the scene and seduces the blue-balled former bachelor, eventually getting caught in the act, then losing big money when Max files for divorce.  Page wants to finally part ways and fly the con on her own, but Max is worried she isn't ready because she might make the mistake of falling for one of the intended victims.

If HEARTBREAKERS is passable entertainment, it's only due to the likeability of the stars and not much else.  Weaver, Hackman, and Liotta are all fine actors who once had well-respected careers but lately the roles have been less-than-meaty for them and their careers are on the demise, while once red-hot actors like Hewitt and Lee have cooled off to make way for the newest, latest hot stars.  We still like all of these actors, and they are still a talented bunch, yet they are also a forgotten crew of thespians who sadly have to settle for rather meager films like HEARTBREAKERS for them to continue to make a living.  While the actors have heart, and do the best they can to inject life into their roles, to turn this script into anything of substance would have taken a miracle. 

HEARTBREAKERS is a study in waste.  A waste of good actors, a waste of a $40 million dollar budget, and what's worse, a waste of our time.  The film offers nothing new, fresh, exciting, or funny, and while it isn't a particularly horrible film, it never rises above the level of so-so.  Every plot element and attempt at humor is contrived absurdity, resulting in characterizations so flimsy that when the elements of love, honesty and betrayal enter the mix in the moments of seriousness, we can only shrug with indifference at people so one-dimensionally phony that they could never give genuine love or be loved in return. 

If you must see this film, bring a marker.  I have a feeling you'll be writing some poetic graffiti on the back of the seat in front of you.  "Here I sit, Brokenhearted..."

Qwipster's rating:

2001 Vince Leo