Friday, 8 July 2011

100 days, 100 films; Day 22 - Heartbreakers

#79 - Heartbreakers:

And today we again visit something more light hearted and yet again we see another Sigourney Weaver film. I’m a little alarmed at how many I ended up picking for my list. But here we have a pretty unique role for her, playing a rather bitchy controlling mother. And she’s doing comedy, believe it or not. Let’s get started.

The plot follows mother and daughter Max and Paige, two women who make their living through conning unsuspecting men. Max will convince rich men to marry her and then Paige will get them to cheat on her so they can be caught, and Max then clears them out in a big divorce settlement. Now the two have recently conned car chopper Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta) and Paige feels she’s ready to start branching out on her own...except they have 90 days to pay off the IRS first. They high-tail it to Palm Beach where Max becomes “Olga” in order to con millionaire William B Tensy (Gene Hackman) to clear the debt and set Paige up on her own. Paige however catches sight of a bartender worth $3 million and intends to start conning him but maybe she might be falling for him.

You really have to love a film this original; I’m sure there are other comedies about con artists but this one has a pretty fun and interesting plot as well as being one of the few romantic comedies where the women aren’t shown as being superior to the men. It’s fun to see all the different ways Max and Paige have for conning their way into free stuff such as putting glass in food at a restaurant to avoid paying for a meal and faking an accident to get a free hotel suite. Then there’s the ridiculous lengths they go to, to make sure their plans succeed. Highlights include “Olga” putting spikes on the road to burst Tensy’s tyres so they can bond, and Paige faking choking on an olive to get some guy’s attention (the fun part is where she actually does start choking and the guy ignores her). And right up there with Ocean’s Eleven’s casino heist is the way Max and Paige get Tensy’s annoying housekeeper out of the way. I’ll go into more detail later on.

The cast is definitely a high point for the film; Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt are perfect as the mother and daughter duo with this attitude that makes you think they can indeed pull this stuff off. Weaver shows that she’s got it at her age and manages to come across like quite the cougar. And let me just say one thing about Miss Hewitt – wow! I respect her as an actress and all but wow wow wow! She is smoking in this film. Every scene she’s in is just made all the more awesome by her fantastic body and legs on display. And sure she backs it up with her fine performance. Not to be outdone by their female co-stars, the male actors in this movie do a fine job as well. Ray Liotta is hilarious as Dean, especially in the scene where he randomly starts shooting fish in the ocean. His character would be right at home on the Jersey Shore. Jason Lee does a bit of a twist playing nice guy Jack who is more than a match for Paige’s ice queen nature with his witty comebacks, such as “my car doesn’t drive so well with a tree in it”. Gene Hackman positively steals the show as the chain-smoking self-obsessed billionaire, claiming he feels like vomiting when he discovers his housekeeper has “stolen” his cigarettes. And we also have small roles from Sarah Silverman and Zack Galfianakis who I actually don’t want to throttle in this film.

The more hilarious scenes involve Max and Paige’s cons such as when the housekeeper is on to them so they plant Tensy’s wife’s old jewellery in her pillow along with a whole cupboard full of Tensy’s cigarettes. And when said housekeeper is being taken away by the police he slips the cop a fifty and says “if it’s possible, can you slap her around a little?”
Up next is when Paige has to set spikes on the road to crash Tensy’s car but Jack shows up first so she has to do a little improvisation to prevent him from giving the game away. Mainly pushing him down a hill, pretending to be hurt and randomly making out with him.
And Max gets taken to a Russian restaurant by Tensy but of course does not speak a word of the language herself. Unfortunately for her she gets called up on stage to sing a traditional Russian song. She manages to cover up by singing “Back in the USSR” instead.

Despite being a comedy we do have some nice drama scenes and indeed a nice big speech by Dean that kind of deconstructs the typical All Men Are Perverts schtick we are so used to seeing. He pretty much calls Max out on how much of a bitch she’s been to her daughter and to the rest of the men she’s conned and exactly why she should be ashamed of herself. And then it cuts to Paige strangling Max in the car after a vital plot twist is revealed (don’t worry, I won’t spoil you).

So I do enjoy some comedies and this one was sexy, hilarious, outrageous and a little insightful. If you look a little harder you might get an insight into human nature but you can always just leave that aside and enjoy all the laughs this movie offers. Until next time people, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.

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