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Donal Lardner Ward
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Only When I Dance
Written by David Baerwald and Becca Byram-Wigfield
Performed by Becca Byram-Wigfield
Courtesy of Pale Rider Inc. and Picklehonk Inc.
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One of the funniest comedies of the year. *** (out of four)
HEARTBREAKERS / (2001) *** (out of four)
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee, Jeffrey Jones, Gene Hackman, Nora Dunn, and Anne Bancroft. Directed by David Mirkin. Written by Robert Dunn, Paul Guay, and Stephen Mazur. Produced by John Davis and Irving Ong. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content and language). Released by MGM Productions.
It is becoming a genuine tradition for movies with sexy stars and seductive content to believe that males of all ages view the world not with their brain, but with the external organ between their legs. "Heartbreakers" does a convincing job at persuading us to agree, if we guy audience members can ourselves get past the ample amounts of cleavage and sexy dialogue inhabiting by this PG-13 rated comedy that contains enough suggestive material and revealing midriffs for many parents to pause over. The film is another mother-daughter story about letting your children grow up-but disguised itself as a hilarious comedy about sensuous swindlers who make their own luck. It makes us laugh because of the irony of its situations, and it makes us smile because of the knowledge of the writing by Robert Dunn, Paul Guay, and Stephen Mazur. "Heartbreakers" is easily one of the funniest comedies of the year.
The film stars Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love-Hewitt as Max and Page, two conniving con artists who use their good looks to get what they want. As the movie opens, Max is married to small-time Jersey womanizer Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta), but the marriage is short lived when Max shows up at his office the next day only to find her newlywed fooling around with an attractive younger woman-her daughter, Page. The whole act was a setup for a abrupt and easy divorce settlement, with the two double-dealers coming away from the act with their pockets overloaded with three-hundred thousand dollars and a really nice car.
Page is growing up and wants to start a business on her own, but her mother thinks she is not yet ready and finds them both in a demanding circumstance: the IRS needs lots of money real soon from Max and Page. A spiteful agent (Anne Bancroft) explains that their accounts have been drained and criminal charges are about to be pursued. Page coincides to help her mother with one last job in order to pay off the alleged debts. They find the perfect target in Palm Beach, an aging tobacco exec named William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman), who is worth over twenty million. Although neither Page or Max find this smelly chain smoking, old man particularly attractive, Max poses as a Russian aristocrat named Ulga Yevanova, while Page finds her way with Tensy as a revealing housekeeper for his local mansion.
This last job ultimately poses a few problems for Max and Page. Max finds herself followed by Dean, who seeks another martial bliss. Page finds herself falling in love with the kind-hearted owner of a local bar (Jason Lee), who is worth three million dollars. Max wants her to go for his pocketbook, but Page really has feelings for this person-even though romance is against her better judgment. The two must decide how to deal with these situations, all while persuading Tensy to further fall for Max in attempt to pay off the IRS.
Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver deliver performances that are both sexy and funny. They are also very well cast; making perfect and believable mother-daughter chemistry. There are also some funny performances from the strong supporting cast. Gene Hackman makes a fool out of himself with a character on the other side of the world from anything he has recently done. The charismatic young actor Jason Lee ("Almost Famous," "Mumford") furnishes a convincing romantic interest-although there is little chemistry between Hewitt and him. Anne Bancroft ("The Graduate," "Great Expectations") fits in with the crowd gleefully. Other small roles from Jeffrey Jones ("The Devil's Advocate," "Sleepy Hollow") as a hotel manager and Nora Dunn ("Three Kings") as a maid framed for house robbing her own employer, are also entertaining.
Director David Mirkin struck out with the 1997 comedy "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion," but here captures the perfect tone for the comic material. Hearty laughs are frequent and big-and it takes a lot to make me
laugh. The film prospers with a script that provides its amusing characters with many active situations and plot twists that are unanticipated and effective. Eventually, however, the film becomes rapped up in a sappy love story that somewhat gets in the way of the comedy. The movie's tone becomes a little too serious, and we end up feeling cheated out of even more boisterously entertaining moments.
When it comes to getting tons of laughs out of the audience, the film prospers with no problems. Hewitt and Weaver make great career moves, especially after they each tried their strings with failed serious films (Weaver's past several "Alien" movies have bombed, and Hewitt could not do a thing with "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer). "Heartbreakers" contains enough effective comic material to warrant more than a single viewing. It is one of the best comedies of the year.
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