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MGM Studios DVD presents
Heartbreakers (2001)

"Ugh, I am not feeling your butt again, mother, ok? We all know it's wonderful."
- Paige (Jennifer Love Hewitt)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: September 26, 2001

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt
Other Stars: Gene Hackman, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee, Jeffrey Jones, Ricky Jay, Kevin Nealon, Carrie Fisher
Director: David Mirkin

Manufacturer: LPMC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex related content including dialogue
Run Time: 02h:03m:31s
Release Date: October 02, 2001
UPC: 027616865687
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-BB+ B

DVD Review

Heartbreakers is an odd one. Blessed by a fun premise (a mother-daughter con team), but saddled with a clumsy, overzealous script; it somehow winds up a minor success, carried all the way by a wonderful cast and quirky direction.

Max (Weaver) and Paige (Hewitt) have a unique way of making a living. The two are full-time con artists. They use their tricks of the trade to get everything from a free meal (just sprinkle some glass into your food); to free gas (distract someone paying with a credit card); to $300,000 in a divorce settlement (just have Max marry and Paige seduce afterwards... instant grounds for separation!). Paige, however, is tiring of life with her mom, eager to score big on her own cons. But when Max loses all their money to the I.R.S., she and Paige are forced into one last job, one big final score: billionaire tobacco mogul (and addict) William Tensy (Hackman).

Stated simply, the setup is a good one. The con scenes are relatively inventive and entertaining, and the prospect of two women playing on the weaknesses of the male sex drive is fun (if unoriginal). However, things get very complicated with the intrusion of several subplots, including imminent revenge from a former victim of the scam (Liotta), and a love interest for Paige (Jason Lee). While it is true that these additions provide some of the funnier scenes (and most of the emotion) in the film, they are needlessly complicated, forcing the picture to a final running time of more than two hours.

The cast makes all the difference, though. Weaver and Hewitt make a great team, and both give engaging performances. Weaver is a proven comedy talent (Galaxy Quest, Working Girl), and she gives this one her all, even managing to inject humor into the dumbest comedy clich╚s (like the faux Russian accent). Hewitt is a nice surprise, as she manages to shed her girl-next-door image with a surprisingly sexual temptress turn. She may not be a great actress when it comes to drama, but she can deliver a punchline. Liotta plays a variation on his crazy, menacing guy routine, and he's not bad. Gene Hackman certainly plays against type with his thoroughly disgusting, repulsive lecherous performance. While some might find it amusing, his constant hacking and coughing didn't work for me (though I admit, the concept of a tobacco exec who genuinely loves his product is pretty good). Lee, though he isn't given much to do, proves once again that there are few who can better improve mediocre dialogue through timing and delivery.

David Mirkin (who also co-wrote) gives the proceedings an appropriately surreal, colorful flair, but he never achieves the same effortlessly bubbly feel as in his last film, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Some jokes fly, others feel forced or labored, but even when the pace suffers, things always look good.

I have seen more unfunny comedies recently than I'd care to count. Say what you will about Heartbreakersˇthe script may be a bit unwieldy and the pacing a tad unevenˇbut the actors manage to actually elicit frequent laughter. I almost forgot that movies could be funny. Who knew?

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The transfer on this disc is serviceable, but it isn't up to the standards of most new releases. I almost never notice things like "natural fleshtones," but I certainly did here. Everyone looks unnaturally orangish. I started adjusting the color on my TV before I realized that the problem was with the disc, not with my system. Colors overall seem a bit unnatural, especially in darker scenes, and the oversaturated look gives the film an almost digital quality, not very film-like at all. Some early scenes showed minor artifacting, but it seemed to clear up (as did a few minor scratches on the print). Other problems include spots of obvious edge enhancement and poor shadow detail in darker scenes (though quality of blacks is excellent). Certainly not a terrible looking disc, Heartbreakers simply suffers from several problems that should not pop up on a new release.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Finally, a comedy that actually makes good use of the surround channels! The front soundstage, of course, still holds most of the action, with clear dialogue from the center and some nice directionality in the mains. However, the surrounds are constantly active, providing support for the energetic score and the effects (in the action oriented scenes). There is also a decent amount of LFE for such a film.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Princess Bride
19 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director David Mirkin; Mirkin and actors Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:27m:38s

Extras Review: Though not overflowing with extras, MGM has produced a nice little special edition for this movie. Quality over quantity is certainly the case here, because all the extras are pretty good and, refreshingly, non-promotional.

Two audio commentaries are present, one with director Mirkin, and another with Mirkin and actors Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. The solo track is, for the most part, informative but very dry. Mirkin's humor is very low key and it doesn't reveal itself too much in the solo track, and serious commentary over a comedy is somewhat anachronistic. Much better is the group track. Weaver and Hewitt are entertaining enough (especially Weaver), but together, they really get Mirkin going. He gets off some great sarcastic quips, and there are some nice on-set anecdotes from the actors. I'd say skip the first track, but be sure to check out the second.

The documentary The Making of Heartbreakers is unusual in that it is, like most of these "making-ofs," produced mostly from promotional EPK footage. However, the overall piece is edited to remove the excessive film clips and "I play a character who..." lines that usually plague DVD documentaries for new films. The result is a brief, informative, and entertaining look at the casting and production of the film, with interviews from all the key players. Not terribly in-depth, but a cut above the norm.

The Laffs and Gaffes piece is less enjoyable. Basically, it is about three minutes of outtakes stretched into 11 minutes by lots of repeated film clips and more EPK footage. There are a few funny clips here and there, but I think a basic gag reel would've been better.

Heartbreakers is already rather long for a comedy, so I was surprised to se 23 minutes of deleted footage on the disc. Wonder how much more was shot? There are 19 deleted scenes, each with optional commentary from Mirkin. Most are very brief, and, well, in a comedy, they don't cut the home run laughs, do they? Still, these are worth watching, if only to hear more of Weaver's Russian accent.

And of course, no disc is complete without the theatrical trailer. Also included is a DVD promo spot for The Princess Bride: SE.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Though it feels a bit labored at times, Heartbreakers is worth at least a rental. The cast is excellent, and does much to redeem the rather overloaded script. Plus, it was nice to have a comedy that actually made me, you know, laugh. In digital terms, MGM has put together a nice DVD with a very good commentary track, which should make fans of the movie quite happy.

 


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