director: david mirkin
sigourney weaver, jennifer love hewitt, gene hackman, ray liotta

. Thereís a movie somewhere behind the marketing that produces films like Heartbreakers, a romantic comedy starring Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Itís tempting to compare it with Palm Beach Story, the classic Preston Sturges screwball comedy, if only because of its setting and basic theme -- that love and money are inextricably linked -- but contemplation of the two films side by side only induces deep depression and tragic nostalgia.

Weaver and Hewitt are a mother-and-daughter team of con artists who bilk rich jerks for considerable divorce settlements by entrapping them in tawdry infidelities, usually on the wedding night. Ray Liotta and Gene Hackman play past and future suckers; there are double crosses galore, a love story, and a spell of black humour involving Hackmanís corpse and a perpetually aroused statue. At any given moment, Heartbreakers is a date movie, a coarse sex comedy, or a club-footed shot at screwball comedy, but mostly itís a classic example of trying to snag a variety of demographics while pleasing none.

Weaver is, thankfully, much better here than in her other recent comedy, the unhappy Company Man. Love Hewitt -- is the Love, we have to ask, really necessary? -- spends most of her screentime squeezed into minidresses that would look tawdry on a Barbie doll, while the camera hovers over her, leering at the impressive mechanical results of her push-up bras. Liotta talks dirty and waves guns, while Hackman just wheezes and hacks on his way to becoming a prop in the venerable "dead guy" slapstick gag. The audience laughs -- occasionally -- and manfully overcomes the obvious, pleading cues for tears.