I've often been willing to give a film a second try, yet this rarely has changed my opinion of the particular feature. An example of this would be two films that came out in 2001, "Josie and the Pussycats" and the less-flawed, but still very problematic "Heartbreakers". Sitting through "Heartbreakers" again, I'm still confronted with several issues that are too major to overlook.
The film stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigorney Weaver as Page and Max, a mother/daughter con-artist team who have been running a scam - Max gets married, finds Page with the husband, gets a quick divorce and a settlement. As the film starts, they've just pulled this on Dean (Ray Liotta) - she got married and one day later she's divorced and quite a bit richer.
The two head out for Palm Beach to find a guy for their one last score to set them up for life. Max finds tobacco company owner William Tensy (Gene Hackman) and attempts to start the con - yet, all is not right in the situation between the two as Page wants to set off on her own. She even finds herself trying to run her own con with the owner of a bar that's on an expensive piece of land (Jason Lee). The two bicker over whether or not she's ready to go off on her own, and it's these kinds of elements that drag down what could have been an edgy, funnier picture.
Before anything else, the length of the picture needs to be seriously discussed. I believe during one of his commentary tracks, director Kevin Smith stated that comedy should be "90 minutes, 100 tops". Never has that been more correct than "Heartbreakers", a film whose 125 minute running time seems absurd, given the already thin material. Although taking 20 to 30 minutes out of the picture would have made it more tolerable, it wouldn't have entirely fixed other problems.
Hewitt looks terrific in the low-cut outfits, but she seems to have completely gone wrong in her idea of how to portray the character. Overly obnoxious, rude and irriating, she creates such an unsympathetic character in the begining of the picture that I really didn't have an interest when she underwent a "change" towards the film's end. Weaver is one of the film's few bright spots - although she doesn't get much to work with, a scene that has her getting up on-stage to sing "Back in the USSR" is the film's funniest moment. I'm still unsure what Hackman saw in this picture. An outstanding actor whose performance in everything from "French Connection" to "Crimson Tide" is often fantastic, he's stuck with an absolutely one-joke character. Jason Lee, really starting to break out after "Chasing Amy", "Almost Famous" and "Mumford", gets very little to do.
Something along these lines is rather suprising, coming from David Mirkin, whose background includes writing and producing some "Simpsons" and "Get A Life" episodes. Possibly, directing material that he's written would be a better idea in the future. If nothing else, "Heartbreakers" does look very good. Offering vibrant cinematography from Oscar-winner Dean Semler and attractive production design from Lilly Kilvert, the film is technically solid.
Going through "Heartbreakers" one more time reveals the same problems I felt while watching the picture in the theater - better material could have provided more laughs and some serious editing could have made the picture at least more tolerable.
VIDEO: Although not entirely terrible, MGM offers up a suprisingly average presentation for "Heartbreakers". Offered in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film's otherwise gorgeous scenery, excellent production design (from Oscar-nominated Lilly Kilvert) and lovely cinematography (from Oscar-winner Dean Semler) are rendered less attractive than they otherwise would be. Sharpness and detail are generally decent, although some of the darker sequences are rather murky and undefined.
The problems unfortunately don't end there. Print flaws are suprisingly noticable for a new release, as speckles, marks and a scratch or two are visible at a fairly consistent rate for a new release, which one would expect would look cleaner than this. Edge enhancement was also mild at various moments throughout the movie and I also noticed some light pixelation once or twice.
Colors also appeared rather oversaturated and flesh tones looked a bit too orange at times. Although certainly not unwatchable or severely problematic, I'd have expected a new movie to look better.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack fares noticably better than the image quality. Although certainly not a surround-heavy presentation, the rear speakers do come into play for the music and a fairly generous amount of ambient sounds. Audio quality is also quite good, especially during Weaver's musical number, which really had all the speakers coming to life quite well. Audio quality was superb, as dialogue sounded clear and easily understood, while the music sounded rich and strong.
MENUS:: Nicely animated main menu with clips and film-themed images. Sub-menus aren't animated, but the score plays behind them.
Commentaries: The disc includes not one, but two full-length commentary tracks, the first one with director David Mirkin and the second with Mirkin and actresses Sigorney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. The second track is easily the more entertaining one, as it becomes obvious the three got along very well on-set. Mirkin's solo commentary is a bit more production-oriented, as he discusses working with the actors and some technical details about filming. That track isn't without a few good jokes, but the second track is far funnier, as Weaver especially has a few good jokes to share about her experience working on the movie. Hewitt's fairly chatty, as well and Mirkin chimes in with some additional comments, although this track certainly never gets technical. Those really interested in the film might want to check out Mirkin's solo track, but those just interested in some fun will certainly want to check out the track with the two actresses.
Deleted Scenes: 22 minutes worth of deleted footage is offered. If you didn't think "Heartbreakers" was already long enough, here's some more footage that could have ended up in the film. Optional commentary from Mirkin on why these scenes were deleted is offered, but unfortunately there's no "play all" option, so the 19 scenes have to be played one-by-one.
Laffs and Gaffes: An 11 minute documentary, this has interviews with the actors and crew discussing some of the funnier moments of the production. Cut in-between these interviews is some goofs and outtakes from filming.
Making Of Heartbreakers: A more traditional 22-minute "making of" documentary, this offers interviews from the cast and crew about the original concepts and history of the picture as well as what it was like to work on the set. Behind-the-scenes footage is nicely cut in-between the interviews, as well. Although the interviews are occasionally promotional, they're not as bad as the usual documentaries included on DVD that just tell us about the story we've already seen. Worth viewing.
Also: "Heartbreakers" trailer (2.35:1/2.0) and "Princess Bride" DVD trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Heartbreakers" takes a good idea and doesn't manage to do much with it - it especially pales in comparison to the much-better "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". MGM's DVD provides only average video quality, but fine audio quality and a good deal of supplemental features. Some may find it a decent rental.