A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is yet another example of the MPAA's comedy rule, meaning that material that would get an R rating in a drama gets a PG-13 rating because it is supposed to be funny. The movie contains continual sexual humor that can get very raunchy, including references to group sex. There is no nudity and nothing too graphic onscreen except for the statue. It has very strong language, especially for a PG-13, smoking (comic) and drinking. As noted, the main characters are con women with no concerns about stealing from anyone and everyone.
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What's the story?
Sigourney Weaver plays Max, a con woman who marries wealthy men, denies them sex, and then sues them for divorce when they make a pass at her partner, Page (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who is also her daughter. After they take New Jersey chop shop owner Dean (Ray Liotta), Page is restless and wants to go off on her own. When they run into a little problem with the IRS, they agree to take on one last big con together and head off for Palm Beach. Max wants to go after tobacco man William Tensy (Gene Hackman), but Page is drawn to a sweet bartender named Jack (Jason Lee) who owns some land worth $3 million. Max's challenges include a ferocious guard dog of a housekeeper (Saturday Night Live's Nora Dunn), and Tensy's constant coughing and terrible tobacco-stained teeth. Page's challenge is keeping her plan secret from her mother and keeping herself from falling in love with Jack.
Is it any good?
HEARTBREAKERS isn't a terrible movie, but it just does not work very well. We like the characters too much to enjoy their greedy behavior but we do not like them enough to care whether they end up happily. Weaver and Hewitt are at their most delectable in outfits that Erin Brockovich could only dream of. If there were ever an Oscar for cleavage, this movie would be the one to beat. Aside from the cleavage, the best reason to watch the movie is to see Weaver and Hewitt doing their bombshell best and Hackman's odious performance as the mark who just might not be worth marrying to get $20 million.
Max and Page are awful to just about everyone and have no sense that their behavior hurts other people. They are selfish and amoral, operating entirely out of expediency with no thought for the consequences for themselves or others. The script tries to make us believe that this is all because Max is trying to protect Page from being hurt, but that is a con job that we just don't fall for. And despite a few con-job twists, the script is just weak and unoriginal. In real life, these con women would not fool Forrest Gump.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Max tried to protect Page from hurt, and whether that is wise or even possible. What does it mean to say, "you might as well get hurt in your own healthy ways?" What was it about Jack that made Page think differently about herself and about the possibilities? What do you have to think about the world to be able to rob everyone you meet? Why did it take Page so long to tell Jack her real name, and what did it mean when she did?
- In theaters: March 23, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: October 2, 2001
- Cast: Gene Hackman, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Sigourney Weaver
- Director: Mike Mitchell
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sex-related content including dialogue
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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