Get local news delivered straight to your phone
Support City Paper!
“Heartbreakers is, to a great extent, about how you have to let go of control in your life and embrace the uncertainty of it,” director David Mirkin pontificates in the film’s press kit. So that explains why big Hollywood names such as Sigourney Weaver, Ray Liotta, and Gene Hackman agreed to appear in this boorish, hackneyed, erect-penis-joke-dominated tale of a gold-digging mother/daughter con-artist team. Weaver dimly stars as Max Conners, a scheming seductress who romances rich rubes, gets them to the altar, and then divorces them days later for big settlements when they get caught in compromising positions with her cunningly complicit daughter. “Why make another Gorillas in the Mist or Ice Storm?” Weaver must have said after reading the Heartbreakers script. “I’m throwing caution to the wind here!” Liotta, who portrays Dean Cumanno, a Jersey chop-shop owner who gets entangled more than once in the ladies’ con games (isn’t it really true love, the movie suggests, if he desires Max even after she cheats him out of lots of money?), must have confessed his desperation to his agent: “Another Henry Hill role might never come my way again. Look, I’m willing to say this stuff—’Her hair got stuck in my zipper,’ ‘Shut up, junior slut,’ ‘Deepak Chopra is no moron’—if that’s what it takes to keep my name in lights.” Hackman plays another scam victim, the about-to-keel chain-smoking cigarette tycoon William Tensy. “Cinéastes will remember me more for The French Connection, Hoosiers, and Unforgiven, anyway,” Gene must have calmly told himself. But what about Ricky Jay? Jay, who was more than memorable in House of Games, the consummate movie about the art of the con, now picks up castrated penises from Greco-Roman sculptures for cheap laughs. Where’s the confidence, Ricky? Jennifer Love Hewitt, on the other hand, probably had little to think about before accepting her role as Max’s foxy daughter, Page, a coldhearted swindler who warms up to true love in the end. Except, perhaps, how tight an outfit the costume department could fit her in before she busted out. At many times during the 123-minute film, I though that we might discover the answer, but, mercifully, we didn’t. Now that’s an uncertainty I’m happy to embrace. —Elissa Silverman