In the role of a seductress who marries rich men only to divorce them–and hence earn a nice sum–after setting them up with her daughter and partner-in-crime Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Sigourney Weaver gets to vamp it up on screen as never before in–and she obviously has a ball, giving her Max Conners a predatory sexuality that is at once frightening and irresistible. Too bad the latter cannot be said of the entirety of “Heartbreakers,” directed by David Mirkin, who last directed the delightfully daffy “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.”
After the umpteenth execution of their standard con-Max marries a guy with whom she’s never had sex; Page uses her charms to get the h***y hubby in a compromising position that Max sees-Page wants her independence. But troubles with the IRS necessitate one last, big score, and Max thinks it’s William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman), a chain-smoking gazillionaire who is one hack away from the grave. Meanwhile, Page pursues a side con with Jack (Jason Lee), a nice guy bartender. The inherent meanness of the premise is promising, but before long any venom devolves into homogenized Hollywood hokum when Page finds herself developing actual feelings for Jack.
In addition to Weaver, Mirkin elicits other strong performances: Hackman’s, Lee’s, and especially Ray Liotta’s as Dean, one of Max’s many previous marks. Noticeably missing from that list is Hewitt. While her self-proclaimed non-silicone (can everyone say, “saline”?) enhanced measurements make her a perfect physical fit for the role, her skills aren’t nearly up to the level of her gifted co-stars’. The film hinges largely on the Page-Jack romance, an already-underwritten plot development (why, exactly, does Jack fall too, since Page is never less than a bitch to him?) made further ruinous by Hewitt’s stunning lack of chemistry with the ever-likable Lee.
“Heartbreakers” is left open for a sequel, and should one come to pass, that film would probably be a lot more interesting and entertaining, given the more promising note on which this film ends.