Heartbreakers (2001 film)

Heartbreakers is a 2001 caper-romantic comedy film directed by David Mirkin. It stars Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Jason Lee, and Gene Hackman. Weaver was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for her performance in the film. The plot revolves around an elaborate con set up by a mother-daughter team to swindle wealthy men out of their money, and what happens during their "last" con together.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Mirkin
Produced byJohn Davis
Irving Ong
Written byRobert Dunn
Paul Guay
Stephen Mazur
Music byJohn Debney
Danny Elfman (theme)
CinematographyDean Semler
Edited byWilliam Steinkamp
Distributed byMGM Distribution Co. (North America)
Films & TV House (International)
Release date
  • March 23, 2001 (2001-03-23)
Running time
122 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$35-$38 million[1]
Box office$57.7 million[1]

This film is written by Robert Dunn, Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur. It was the third collaboration by Guay and Mazur, whose previous comedies were The Little Rascals and Liar Liar.


Max and Page Conners (Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt) are a mother-daughter con artist team. When the film opens, the Conners are finishing a con on Dean Cumanno (Ray Liotta), an auto-body shop owner and small-time crook. The con, which the Conners have played many times before on other men, involves Max marrying Dean, passing out on their wedding night to avoid consummating the marriage, and then Page (posing as Dean's secretary) luring Dean into a compromising position to justify Max's immediate divorce and hefty settlement. The con is a success.

Page declares that she wants to go solo. Max initially relents, but when they go to the bank to split their earnings, they're confronted by an IRS agent (Anne Bancroft) who declares that they owe the government a considerable sum on top of the rest of their savings, which have already been seized. Page reluctantly agrees to work one last con with Max in Palm Beach, to get enough money to pay off the IRS and set Page up to work on her own. For their target, they choose widower William B. Tensy (Gene Hackman), a tobacco baron who is addicted to his own product.

While working the main con with Tensy, Page attempts a side con without her mother's knowledge. Page targets beachfront bartender Jack (Jason Lee), who is worth $3 million; she tells him that her name is Jane, but develops genuine feelings for him. Max learns of the side con and tells Page to break the relationship off, which Page does reluctantly.

Tensy proposes to Max ahead of schedule, but before they can get married, he accidentally chokes and dies while trying to initiate sex with Max. While Max and Page are deciding what to do with the body, Dean arrives, having tracked Max down to apologize and propose to her again. Dean figures out that Max and Page conned him, and threatens to call the authorities. Max offers to return Dean's divorce settlement money if he'll help them make Tensy's death look like an accident. Max tells Page that their money wasn't really taken by the IRS; the agent was Max's mentor, Barbara, who agreed to help prevent Page from leaving. However, when Max, Page and Dean go to the bank, the money really has gone, having been liquidated in an act of betrayal by Barbara.

In order to help Max, Page returns to Jack and accepts his proposal, planning to work it as a regular con. Page insists that Jack will not cheat on her, but is heartbroken when, on their wedding night, she breaks into her mother's room and finds him in a compromising position with Max. After the divorce settlement is paid, Dean confronts Max about the ethics of their con, pointing out that even a "goody-goody" like Jack is only human. Max reveals that Jack actually turned her down and that she had to drug him, but she defends her actions by saying that Jack would hurt Page eventually. Dean counters that Max has no right to keep Page from the man she loves because of what "might" happen.

Chastened, Max tells Page the truth, admitting that her efforts to protect her daughter have only hurt her in other ways. Page returns to Jack, giving him back the bar he'd had to sell to pay the settlement, and tells him her real name. Max and Dean also get together, Dean having admitted that he still loves Max despite what she put him through. The final shot of the film is of Dean using the name 'Stanley' romancing Barbara, with Max watching them via binoculars, implying that Max and Dean are now working together to get Max's money back from Barbara.



The film had been in the works for quite a long time. Originally, Ang Lee was set to direct with Anjelica Huston and Alicia Silverstone playing the roles of "Max" and "Page". However, due to the long pre-production stage, both actresses had to bow out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. In 1999, it was then announced that Huston and Cameron Diaz were set to play the two leading roles, with Doug Liman directing but then Liman backed out of the project, creating quite a long time frame to find a new director. Huston and Diaz both had to bow out as well. Cher became attached and brought in David Mirkin to direct and rewrite the script. Jennifer Aniston also became attached at this time. Cher then dropped out to do a world tour for her unexpected #1 hit album Believe and the mother/daughter roles went to Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. R&B singers Whitney Houston and Aaliyah were briefly considered for the leading mother/daughter roles. Other film commitments prevented Aaliyah from taking the role and Houston's drug battle prevented her from working at the time.

Filming took place from April 24, 2000 and ended on August 1, 2000

The film was set in Palm Beach, Florida (specifically the Breakers Hotel); according to the DVD commentary by director David Mirkin, only a few external shots were actually shot in Palm Beach, with the rest utilizing Los Angeles area locations as stand-ins. The film contains several references to The Beatles, including Sigourney Weaver singing a Russian folk version of "Back in the U.S.S.R." and the use of John Lennon's "Oh My Love" in several key scenes.


Danny Elfman composed the main theme and John Debney composed the score for the film. Among others, Inara George contributed the song Infinity.


The film opened at #1 in the U.S. box-office, earning $12.3 million on its opening weekend.[2] It went on to gross a total of $57,756,408 worldwide.[3]

It received mixed reviews from critics. Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and said that, "it does what a comedy must: It makes us laugh."[4] A.O. Scott of the New York Times gave a glowing review of the film, stating that: "At a time when most comedies go for your wallet with a kick in the groin and a blackjack to the back of the head, this one, though it has some blunt instruments in its bag of tricks, has the class and professionalism to perpetrate an honest and sophisticated con."[5]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 53% rating based on 119 reviews.[6] At On Metacritic the film has a score of 47 out of 100 based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[7] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B- on scale of A to F.[8]

Home media release

The film was released on VHS and DVD on October 2, 2001. The film was released on Blu-ray on November 24, 2015.[9]

See also


  1. "Heartbreakers (2001) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  2. "Heartbreakers hit top spot". BBC News. 26 March 2001. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  3. "Heartbreakers". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  4. Roger Ebert (23 March 2001). "Heartbreakers Movie Review & Film Summary (2001)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. A.O. Scott (2001-03-23). "FILM REVIEW; It's Take Your Daughter to Work Day". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  6. "Heartbreakers". 23 March 2001.
  7. "Heartbreakers". Metacritic.
  8. "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  9. Messier, Max. "Heartbreakers". Film Critic. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
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