Published Mar 01, 2001"Heartbreakers" is a hard movie to sit through. It features awkward dialogue, hackneyed jokes delivered at a plodding pace, annoying, unsympathetic characters, a vaguely offensive premise, bad direction, and it seems to last forever. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to two much better films, "The Grifters" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," the pleasant memories of which made watching "Heartbreakers" all the more painful. The movie's story has a mother/daughter con artist team (Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt) who scam hapless men out of their money by tricking them into marrying one, being seduced by the other, then caught in the act and quickly divorced by the first one. After working their con successfully on Dean (Ray Liotta), the bickering duo decide to pull one last huge scam in Palm Beach before going their separate ways. Mom sets her sights on tobacco industry tycoon Tensy (Gene Hackman), whose age and smoking habit leaves him on death's door with a huge fortune to bequeath. Meanwhile daughter Page starts working successful bar owner Jack (Jason Lee), on the side but complicates matters when she actually begins to fall for him. Needless to say, hilarity ensues all around.
This movie does defy the typical Hollywood convention by starting off so bad that it actually does improve as it goes along, but just because you're not grimacing as much at the end as you were at the beginning does not mean that it is worth sticking around for the full two-plus hours. Weaver is disappointingly bad, while Hewitt is, well, exactly as bad as expected. Hackman's character has one gag to rely on, and there's only so much comedic gold found in smoking and coughing - it soon grows tiresome. Liotta is in top annoying form, seemingly having traded acting styles with Joe Pesci after "Goodfellas." Poor Jason Lee (last seen as Stillwater's lead singer in "Almost Famous") is thrown into this bad mix to fend for himself and somehow manages a decent and honest performance (although however convincing an actor he may be, I'll never fully believe that anyone could fall for the moronic Page). There is no character development to speak of, but some half-baked psychology is tossed in at random in a failed attempt to shed light on the motivations of the characters - rest assured, gentle writing team, that we don't really care why they do the bad things that they do, we just want them to stop so we can all go home.