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Bimbo And Bimboer: 'Heartbreakers' Strains Belief, and Buttons

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 23, 2001


    'Heartbreakers' Jennifer Love Hewitt, left, plays a con artist in "Heartbreakers." (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Actresses are always griping about the lack of meaty roles for older women, and not without justification. The numbers don't lie, but then neither do most figures. That has never been a problem, however, for such evergreen screen sirens as Sophia Loren, Eartha Kitt or Susan Sarandon, because all of them have enough sense to act their ages.

Sigourney Weaver, on the other hand, is clueless when it comes to portraying women, mature or otherwise, who are confident in their sensuality. She's always playing a kitten. Beneath Weaver's long, tall, aristocratic exterior beats the heart of a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. And does she ever shake those pompoms in "The Heartbreakers," a sporadically amusing romp modeled on "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

She's supposed to come off as a shrewd con woman, skilled at bilking rich rubes, but she acts too much like a bimbo to be mistaken for shrewd. Jennifer Love Hewitt, as her bosomy 23-year-old daughter and accomplice, inherited her mom's way with men as well as her brainlessness and bust size. Both actresses spend much of the movie looking as if they're wearing Erin's bra-kovich.

Hewitt's breasts,roughly the size of hot-air balloons, come so close to her chin that it's a wonder the poor child can open her mouth. One thing's for sure, the drooling director (David Mirkin) didn't close his pie-hole once during the shoot. The movie makes men look like nincompoops.

However contemptible the ladies find them, men are great to have around when there is a need for heavy lifting. And that's certainly the case here. These boobs do all the work when it comes to carrying the movie. Ray Liotta, playing the first victim, shoulders some of the load as an affable chop shop operator.

But Gene Hackman all but saves the picture with a hilarious send-up of a repulsive tobacco tycoon who becomes the swindlers' second mark. After years of chain-smoking, he's a major phlegm producer, rattled by chronic coughing fits. Along with his fortune, he has a gray pallor, bright red nose and mossy yellow teeth. Every time he tries for a kiss, he gets belly laughs from the audience.

Meanwhile Hewitt decides to pursue a more attractive alternative, an endearing young bar owner (charming Jason Lee, from "Chasing Amy"), who has been offered $3 million for his property. Complications ensue when she falls in love, paving the way for the movie's suddenly saccharine outcome.

Hewitt and Weaver, with their strained rapport, are hardly convincing as disgruntled daughter and overly protective mother. You also get the feeling that Weaver went diva and wasn't about to let some pipsqueak share the glory, much less a single scene. The director either didn't notice or simply didn't care enough to rectify the situation.

Anne Bancroft, in a cameo role, has maybe three scenes as Weaver's mentor. That's more than enough time to demonstrate the timeless appeal of brains, class and knowing when to give up on the garter belts. Sorry, Sigourney, but when the varicose veins start showing, it's time to kiss those scanties goodbye.

Heartbreakers (at area theaters, 123 minutes) is rated PG-13 for sexuality, language and crude humor.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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