Heartbreakers

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Heartbreakers

The career of Benny Hill notwithstanding, sex and comedy generally make poor bedfellows: When done well, each tends to elicit a strong physiological response that cancels the other out. A case in point, the raunchy and repellent Heartbreakers, augments its brittle, grating black comedy with enough cleavage to satisfy even the loneliest Maxim reader. Cast against type as a cold, calculating seductress, Jennifer Love Hewitt plays the daughter of Sigourney Weaver, a veteran con-woman who lures wealthy men into marrying her and then wins lucrative divorce settlements by "catching" them in compromising positions with Hewitt. After scamming Ray Liotta, Weaver and Hewitt set their sights on billionaire Gene Hackman, but Hewitt suffers a crisis of conscience after meeting Jason Lee, an affable bar owner whose affection for her presumably has more to do with her physique than her spiteful personality and disdain for him. A rancid farce whose contempt for humanity trickles down to even its tiniest supporting roles, Heartbreakers would need to be exceedingly smart and funny to get away with its glib misanthropy. It's neither, and all the bared flesh in the world can't compensate for its grotesque characters, clumsy gags, and bloated running time. Lee emerges as Heartbreakers' only halfway sympathetic character, but his romance with Hewitt, ostensibly meant to humanize her and give the film emotional resonance, instead comes off as masochistic and delusional. The film attempts to glean laughs from Hewitt and Weaver's never-ending manipulations, but they simply aren't convincing as con artists, and in spite of the bountiful cleavage they use to distract their victims, it's hard to believe that anyone would fall for their transparent shtick. As the most evil and one-dimensional character in a film with more than its share, Hackman struggles with a role that would require far more dignity to qualify as thankless, while Weaver is hamstrung by unflattering lighting and a phony Russian accent that recalls Rocky & Bullwinkle's Natasha Fatale. Heartbreakers only makes good on half of the sex/comedy equation: It offers plenty of T&A and leering double-entendres, but not much in the way of laughs or recognizably human behavior.