Film: Heartbreakers

Heartbreakers is a 2001 romantic comedy/caper film directed by David Mirkin and starring Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ray Liotta, Gene Hackman, and Jason Lee.

The plot follows Max and Paige Conners (Weaver and Hewitt respectively), a pair of mother and daughter con women. Max marries rich men and then quickly sets them up to cheat on her with Paige and then claims most of their money in a divorce settlement. When the movie starts Paige wants to break away from her mother and start conning on her own but the IRS has just seized all their money so the two decide to pull off one big con on Palm Beach. Max poses as a Russian woman to snag the billionaire William B Tensey (Hackman) in hopes of paying off the IRS and setting Paige up for conning on her own. Meanwhile Liotta plays Dean, the last man the women conned, who wants a second chance with Max and stumbles across their con.

"Trope Alert":

  • Abusive Parent: Max isn't exactly Joan Crawford but...
  • All for Nothing: We spend most of the movie believing that Max and Paige are doing the con just to pay off the IRS but it turns out Max used her old partner to fool Paige and stop her from going out on her own.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Deconstructed beautifully. Max and Paige make their money off this trope, doing their very best to con all men using their sex appeal. Paige's mentality is "we can't make a scumbag do anything a scumbag wouldn't do". But then when it appears even nice guy Jack cheats on Paige with Max, it turns out she had to drug him because he turned her down. And Dean gives Max a speech telling her that although he cheated, he is genuinely sorry because he lost her and wants to try again.
  • All There in the Script: Max's name is never mentioned once in the whole movie.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Olga's" accent is not even close to being authentic but it just needs to sound convincing enough to fool Tensey. Ditto for Paige's "English" accent as Allison.
  • Asshole Victim: Max and Page's cons are predicated on the mark wilfully committing adultery; as Page notes, "we can't make a scumbag do anything a scumbag wouldn't do". Also, they regularly target marks who deal in rather shady types of business. as it makes them agreeing to out-of-court settlements much easier (as bringing the divorce proceedings in front of a judge might leave them open for criminal proceedings).
  • Bait and Switch: When Max runs into Dean again he reaches into his coat pocket seemingly to whip out a gun...instead it's an engagement ring.
    • And then it turns out he did have a gun in his trousers.
  • Becoming the Mask: Paige intends to con Jack out of $3 million but then goes and falls in love with him.
  • Bilingual Backfire: Tensey takes "Olga" to a Russian restaurant where she knows only one word of Russian and is then called upon to sing a traditional Russian song. She covers up by singing "Back in the USSR" instead.
  • Bitch Alert: The Trope Namer, courtesy of this line:
    MAX: "We have a bitch alert."
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Max and Paige switch between all three colours in their various identities; both are brunette as themselves, Max is redhead as "Olga" and blonde as "Angela" while Paige is redhead as "Wendy" and blonde as "Allison".
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Dean at the start although it's more caught with a woman stuck on your pants.
  • Chained to a Bed: Dean
  • Chekhov's Gag: The statue of the man with the erection.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Max makes several references to her old partner Barbara. Turns out Barbara was actually 'Gloria Vogel', the supposed IRS agent - actually part of a scam to stop Paige going out on her own. And she ends up conning them out of their money.
  • The Con: Naturally.
  • Cruel Mercy: When Dean discovers Max and Page's plan he threatens to kill them, only for Max to point out his gun is empty. He then says he'll have them thrown in jail, and says "I don't have to kill you to kill you".
  • Death as Comedy
  • Disappeared Dad: Paige's dad pulled a "conceive and leave"
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted as Max is revealed to have drugged Jack and got him into bed so Paige can get money from a divorce. Dean reacts with disgust and Paige nearly strangles Max when she finds out, although she still more or less gets off scot-free.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Max and Paige have different hairstyles for their different identities.
  • Fanservice: Remains Jennifer Love Hewitt's hottest movie (most telling critical comment: "Wonderful performance by Hewitt's breasts").
  • Fake Nationality: Max pretends to be Russian and Paige pretends to be English. Hilarity Ensues when Tensey takes Max to a Russian restaurant.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Paige and Jack. This also seems to be the raison d'etre for the whole con - since Max claims her record is three months.
  • Gag Penis: Dean is implied to be VERY well endowed.
  • Genre Shift: Two-thirds of the way through, the movie shifts from being a con movie to being a Romantic Comedy.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: The con at Palm Beach.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Max adopts a few pet words in Russian as "Olga" such as "pipishka" (you know what she's talking about).
  • The Ghost: Barbara, Max's mentor who taught her the con. Subverted when we find out Barbara was actually Gloria Vogel, the IRS woman Max used to fool Paige.
  • Golddiggers: As should be obvious from the description.
  • Heel Realization: Max when she realizes how she's ruining her daughter's life.
  • Honey Traps
  • Hypocritical Humour: Dean says to Max, "if you're gonna be my wife then you're gonna lead a respectable life...chopping cars".
  • In Love with the Mark: Discussed by Max:
    "Cute is dangerous. Cute leads to feelings which leads to screwing. Which leads to screwed"
    • Ultimately ends up being played straight by Page.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paige
  • Joisey: Dean.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Max
  • Likes Older Women: A few of Max's husbands.
  • Love Redeems
  • Maybe Ever After: The last we see of Paige and Jack is her giving him back his bar and confessing her real name. It's left ambiguous whether or not she tells him the full truth or if their relationship will endure.
  • Meaningful Name: Max and Paige's last name is Conners.
  • Mrs. Robinson
  • My Beloved Smother: Max, although quite tame by the rest of the examples of this trope. She sincerely doesn't want her daughter's heart to be broken. However, she will con and lie to her daughter to achieve this. But near the end, when she sees that her daughter truly was in love with their last con, the con that the Smother drugged, she comes clean, and lets her daughter live her life.
    • A straighter example in the mother of a billionaire Paige considers conning.
  • Noodle Implements: The "Trogden Triangle" requires a trumpet and a talking parrot.
  • The One That Got Away: Dean decides to go after Max because he realizes she's the first woman that ever left him, rather than vice versa.
  • Out with a Bang: Tensey, though more like out just before the bang. He dies with an erection.
  • Pair the Spares: Max and Dean.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The end implies Max and Dean are planning to con Barbara out of the money she stole from Max.
  • Product Placement: Roger Ebert quipped that Jennifer Love Hewitt's Fanservice-y appearance seemed as much a walking advertisement for the Wonderbra as anything else.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dean delivers several to Max when he realizes just how unscrupulous she is.
  • Rich People
  • Sassy Black Woman: One of the hotel maids.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: When Paige/Wendy is revealed to be Max's daughter she pulls off her red wig and shakes her natural brown hair loose.
  • She's Got Legs: Both of them.
  • Stacy's Mom: Max tries to invoke this with Jack.
  • Straw Feminist: Max believes all men are scumbags who can't commit to one woman. Until she meets Jack that is.
  • Stripperiffic: The clothes Paige wears in the workplace are hardly appropriate. Which is exactly what she's counting on.
  • There Are No Therapists: When Dean discovers what the two are up to he says, "do you have any idea how much therapy you people need!"
  • Tsundere: Paige for Jack. Initially she's tsuntsun as he keeps bugging her, then she pretends to bring out a deredere side and then she's no longer pretending.
    • Dean is Type B for Max. Initially he's madly in love with her, then hates her for conning him but still wants her.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Invoked by Max. A) because they're easier to seduce and B) it puts them off actually sleeping with them and risking pregnancy. As Max puts it "Cute is dangerous. Cute leads to feelings, which leads to screwing, which leads to screwed". Of course Max still remarks that "Dean was kind of cute" and they do end up together.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Max, we're looking at you. She gets better, eventually.
  • Wedding Day: Two of them onscreen. Max claims to have been married thirteen times.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Max as "Olga" and Paige as "Allison".