A funny, scintillating and often raunchily sharp madcap crime comedy, Heartbreakers crackles with great, comedic performances and a game cast. While it overstays it’s welcome with the running time , it’s still a good knockabout time with scintillating scenes and many great laughs
Max(Sigourney Weaver) and Page Connors(Jennifer Love Hewitt) are a mother daughter con artist duo who have been largely successful in their schemes. Their main ploy is for Max to charm someone with money into marriage. On the wedding night, she falls asleep thus not consummating the marriage. Shortly after, Page poses as a seductive young girl in order to put the man in a compromising position. Max then discovers this indiscretion and files for divorce, earning plenty of money in the process. They begin the movie by pulling this number on hot shot car salesman Dean( Ray Liotta). But this charmed existence is dealt a blow when the IRS catches up with them and they are forced to pay back their ill-gotten gains. Wanting money once more, Max persuades Page to do one last con with her and they head to Palm Beach. They set their sights on the loathsome tobacco baron William B. Tensy(Gene Hackman), who is never without his product and is prone to hacking fits. Page, although obviously close to her mother, feels a tad resentful that Max is always the one who seems to be the most successful and skilful at the con game. And while obviously talented at the game too, thanks to sassy attitude and plenty of sex appeal, Page wants to prove she can do it alone and be as savvy as her mother . Alongside the big con she and her mother are working on, she decides to do one of her own. She meets the sweet and unsuspecting bar owner Jack(Jason Lee), who has been offered a good amount of money for his establishment. What Page hasn’t counted on is developing deep, romantic feelings for him, which threatens to throw a spanner in the works. Also around to complicate matters is the return of Dean who wants to get even , despite the fact he’s still crazy for Max. Much eventfulness unfurls as the elaborate con takes unexpected turns with an out of his mind Dean joining the fray and unexpected feelings getting in the way of a possibly lucrative operation for the scheming mother/daughter duo.
David Mirkin does a commendable job with Heartbreakers. He obviously is enjoying directing this amusing and at times raunchy crime comedy with amoral characters and a few good curveballs. When it comes to the laughs, Heartbreakers does deliver in large part due to the writing and zany events displayed. We have side splitting moments involving a nude statute , Max’s quick thinking in getting out of a possible jam when impersonating an Eastern European mistress and Page being used as the seductive decoy many a time. And basically anytime that Ray Liotta and Gene Hackman are on screen. The bone of contention within Heartbreakers comes with the running time, which it must be said goes on too long . Plus, there are some parts, mainly in the latter stages, that become overly complicated when they shouldn’t. I mean I’m all for twists and turns when observing a con game, but a few too many takes the cake. Thankfully, the vast majority of Heartbreakers is entertaining enough to compensate for these flaws and make it a fun-filled ride. It’s breezy and tart, with gorgeous locales and naughty antics a plenty. A jaunty and breezy score, peppered with fizzy mischief accentuates the fun time that’s being had by just about everyone involved.
The cast is what really makes Heartbreakers sizzle and have a great sense of humour. Sigourney Weaver, who is an actress I’ve always admired and been impressed with, flexes her comedic chops here with a charismatic turn. Combining a sense of experience in all things devious with moments of genuine heart, Sigourney Weaver is wholly convincing as a worldly con artist who is afraid to lose her daughter. Weaver is on great form as an commanding and slick criminal who had never grown tired of the grifter existence and displays it with appealing confidence and sexy ease. As her sparring partner in crime and daughter , Jennifer Love Hewitt also excels. Balancing cuteness, sex appeal and tough eye rolling sarcasm, she’s a vixen who develops a heart against her better judgment. Although constantly scene in figure hugging clothing that is hard to ignore, Jennifer Love Hewitt isn’t relegated to brainless sexpot here. Rather she knows how to flaunt it with a sense of humour and fun that’s most appealing .Weaver and Hewitt share a great chemistry and are genuinely believable as not your average mother daughter. Watching their back and forth is a delight with bickering and double dealings going hand in hands in a joint venture. Both ladies are wonderful and so very watchable in this crime caper. Another big standout is Ray Liotta, having fun with his often intense and unpredictable persona, is a delight as the out of his mind car dealer caught in the web. Liotta brings new meaning to the word manic with a hilarious performance as a spurned and played man who eventually gets in on the con game action. A scene stealing Gene Hackman is a true hoot as the man targeted by the women for their scheme. Spluttering through endless cigars, wearing heavy make up that makes him look like a reanimated corpse and embodying a sleazy routine as a dirty old man, the ever talented Hackman makes you howl with his comedic antics here. Both and are comedic delights in this movie and the screen lights up with them on it. Jason Lee probably gets the least to do as a potential pawn in the con game and love interest. He’s sweet and sincere, not to mention rather clueless, but he just isn’t as interesting as the other people who occupy the screen. In her last movie appearance before her death, Anne Bancroft has a ball as a shifty lady who you are never sure of. And boy does she have a blast in this supporting role that lets her sign off in style.
So while it does wear out it’s welcome thanks to the running time getting long in the tooth and things stalling in the midsection, Heartbreakers is still a fun romp through the con game. It’s enlivened by an up for anything and delightful cast and some pretty fantastic laugh out loud moments. This review is dedicated to the exceptional Ray Liotta, who recently passed away.