Directed by David Mirkin
Review by Matt Heffernan <email@example.com>
I thought 2000 was a bad year, but it's taken me nearly a quarter of 2001 to give a positive rating to any new film. Sure, there were some 2000 leftovers that got the ol' "thumbs-up", and Evy found two 2001 films worthy, but not I. Nothing that I reviewed rose above mediocrity, until now. Thank God. I didn't expect Heartbreakers to be the first film of the year that I liked, but here we are.
Sigourney Weaver stars as Max, a con artist who marries sleazy rich guys, then divorces them after they unwittingly try to seduce her daughter, Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt). After swindling their latest victim (Ray Liotta), Page decides that she should strike out on her own with her half of their amassed fortune. However, they find out that they are in debt to the IRS after years of tax evasion. So, they need to pull off at least one more job just to get out of the red.
Destination: Palm Beach. Page wants to con a young, cute doctor. Max insists on an elderly tobacco tycoon (Gene Hackman), whose smoking days are almost over. Page still tries to pursue the doctor, but ends up meeting a bartender (Jason Lee) who seems like just another schmuck at first, but turns out to own land that's worth millions. Max is worried -- rightly so -- that Page can't keep herself from falling in love.
It's a pretty basic con-artist plot, and the story is pretty predictable. OK, the end is visible before you're halfway there, but unlike other comedy capers, this one is worth sitting through. Of course, watching Hewitt in various skimpy outfits is a plus, but the film is genuinely funny -- even to the point of distraction. That's no small feat given the amount of her skin that has been exposed on celluloid (if you'll forgive me that cheap pun).
What is surprising is that Hewitt appears to have the comic ability to match, even when placed within this talented cast. Without Weaver, Liotta, Lee, and Hackman, Heartbreakers would not work, but thankfully they are there to create the right tone. The sentimentality in the Hewitt-Lee love story is kept to a minimum, allowing the rest of the film to be a delightful black comedy. Well, at least I can take delight in dark humor; I'm one of the few people who realized that Fight Club was a comedy.
I'm more than a bit relieved to finally enjoy a film from this new millennium. Three months is a little too long to wait, and more than enough time to develop a deep pessimism. My outlook isn't quite ecstatic yet, but hopefully this year will start to turn around soon. I mean, 2001 couldn't possibly be worse than 2000. Could it? Don't answer that.
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Review © 2001 Matt Heffernan