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Movie Review

Hollywood loves grifters. Maybe its because con men (and women) remind moviemakers of themselves. Always looking to pull one over on you. Add Heartbreakers to a list that already includes Some Like It Hot, The Sting, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and House of Games. Max and her daughter Page’s con works this way: Mom gets rich men to fall in love with her and marry her. Immediately thereafter, Page wiggles and flirts her way in between the happy pair, luring the unsuspecting—and unscrupulous—hubby into a compromising sexual situation. In pops Mom, incensed at her darling-dear’s indiscretion, and demanding a divorce. Make that a divorce with a pricey settlement attached. Then it’s on to the next victim. But Page is tired of being the "secondary." She wants her own score. So it’s off to Florida where the big game hides in lush estates along the coast. Max targets an elderly billionaire named Tensy. Page stumbles upon a well-to-do bar owner named Jack.

positive elements: Heartbreakers’ hyperbole clearly fingers the women’s nefarious activities as wrong. (Not that it ever changes the way they behave.) Page has grown frustrated and discontent with her life and pines for a man who will truly love her and a mom who will truly care. Jack, while hardly chaste, demonstrates that not all men are scoundrels. Still ...

sexual content:... every other male on the screen is a lust-filled Neanderthal with nary a reasonable or disciplined thought in his head. Max assures Page that there’s not a man alive whom she can’t seduce. "Men don’t turn women down," she says. And her track record backs up her claim. Interestingly, neither Max nor Page actually sleeps with any of the men they con—while they’re conning them (Max sleeps with a former husband after he wises up to her plot and tags along to help her with her latest scheme). Tricks, lies and evasive maneuvers keep the two women from consummating their relationships. But both of them adore the flirting and foreplay that gives them the power to control their marks. Lies include lines about refraining from sex because of religious beliefs. Flirtations include wearing dresses that would make Erin Brockovich blush. Page’s hemlines ride up; necklines plunge to meet them. Max sports skimpy lingerie and Page pulls off her shirt to show her bra. On their "wedding night" Max tears off her dress for Dean. He whips out a switchblade and begins cutting off the rest. She returns the favor—minus the knife. The next day Page comes on to Dean, and entices him with the idea of oral sex (she ends up with her hair caught in his zipper).

And then there’s the nude statue. A running gag involves a generously endowed male carving. Twice, its penis is broken (once by moving men, and once by Tensy). Both times visual images and dialogue dive headfirst into the gutter. Max ties Dean to a bed, pretending that she is a dominatrix bent on indulging in sadomasochistic sex. She then leaves him—clad only in his skivvies—for a hotel maid to untie later. And if all that weren’t enough, crude jokes fly about nearly every form of twisted and distorted sexual activity imaginable, including necrophilia.

spiritual content: God is referenced as an excuse for the women to avoid sex with repulsive men. In one scene, Max informs Tensy that "God is everywhere." A grossly irreverent Tensy retorts, "Yes he is, nosey bastard."

violent content: A man’s dead body falls from a balcony. Page accidentally-on-purpose takes a header into a hotel’s marble floor. She pushes a man. She punches another. A tire-puncturing strip sends three cars skidding into a tree. Doors are kicked open. Picture frames are flung. TV remotes are hurled. Max hits Tensy with a golf club. Dean holds a gun on Max and Page.

crude or profane language: One f-word and nearly 20 s-words undergird volleys of crude and rude dialogue, most of it sexual. About 20 misuses of the Lord’s name.

drug and alcohol content: Again, hyperbole points accusing fingers at the tobacco industry for callously providing a lethal product to the general public. Tensy is clearly coughing his way to the grave on the back of a multi-pack-a-day habit. Page smokes several times early in the film, but vows to give it up when she sees its disastrous impact on Tensy. Wine and champagne are served at weddings. Jack owns a bar so drinking is seen numerous times there, as it is at other restaurants and social events. Max shares cognac with Jack, then slips a drug into his drink to make him pass out.

conclusion: Heartbreakers skims along on the same formula as many of Hollywood’s other con films, but it lacks one key ingredient: surprise. You almost always know what’s going to happen next. Only once was I caught unaware, and that was on a minor plot point. That’s disappointing. Particularly so since the film turns to titillation to fill the void. Buckets of sexual sludge pour down on audiences as Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver ratchet up the sizzle. Of Hewitt, producer John Davis said, "Love has really come of age. She’s not sexy cute, she’s sexy sexy. It’s going to be a revelation to the audience." Indeed it is.

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Sigourney Weaver as Max Conners; Jennifer Love Hewitt as Page Conners; Ray Liotta as Dean Cumanno; Jason Lee as Jack Withrowe; Jeffrey Jones as Mr. Appel; Gene Hackman as William B. Tensy; Anne Bancroft as Gloria Vogal/Barbara; Nora Dunn as Miss Madress; Shawn Colvin as a minister


David Mirkin ( )





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Steven Isaac

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