Heartbreakers (2001)

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Released 8-May-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 118:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Mirkin
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jason Lee
Gene Hackman
Ray Liotta
Bancroft. Anne
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music John Debney
Danny Elfman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, extensive
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Heartbreakers is, superficially, somewhat like a feminine Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It lacks something of the charm of that movie, but compensates with the charms of its leading ladies.

    Before I forget, I must mention that the front cover is deceptive - it shows Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt looking seductive (not hard for that pair!), with Gene Hackman looking debonair. This is false advertising in a way: Gene Hackman's character is anything but debonair. If anything, he is disgusting and repulsive, chain-smokes and is subject to frequent hacking coughs (yeah, pun intended). At least the Region 4 cover shows him with a cigarette - the Region 1 shows him raising his hat, a suave gesture inappropriate to the character he's portraying. The other objection I have is that Gene Hackman's character is not the third most-important character in the film - he's somewhere from fourth (if you only count Jason Lee), to sixth (if you add Ray Liotta and perhaps Anne Bancroft). I guess they thought he'd help sell the movie.

    On to the plot: although it's supposed to be a surprise, I feel no guilt at revealing that Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt are playing mother and daughter (unless you've just returned from a galaxy far far away you know that much about this movie already). These very lovely ladies are experienced con artists, whose standard scam involves mother (Sigourney Weaver) marrying wealthy man, then catching said man in flagrante delicto with another woman (the daughter, Jennifer Love Hewitt, although the man doesn't know this), then divorcing him and taking a substantial cash settlement. We are shown how this works under the opening credits as Sigourney (calling herself "Angela" at this time) marries Dean (Ray Liotta) in a lovely church service, gets him excited in the honeymoon suite, then passes out from having drunk too much, thus depriving him of conjugal bliss on their wedding night. He goes to work (in a "chop shop" - that's an establishment that takes apart stolen cars to sell them for parts, if you've lead a sheltered life) and gets seduced by "Wendy" (Jennifer Love Hewitt, in a dress long enough to make a reasonable shirt). Naturally "Angela" appears at just the wrong moment. She gets $300,000 and a Mercedes out of this, but she tells her daughter Page it's only $80,000.

    Page wants to go it alone, wanting to run her own life. Her mother doubts she is ready. Page is determined. So they go to withdraw the money they've been accumulating, only to get a nasty surprise, which leads them to a need to do one more con, a big one...

    I wasn't sure how well these two would work together, but I'm impressed - they play a very convincing mother and daughter, with a complex and believable relationship. Both are likeable characters, and both are very attractive. Jennifer Love Hewitt spends about half her time in outfits that look a bit tarty (bra hanging out the top of her dress, hem barely below her buttocks), but that's part of her character. Sigourney Weaver's clothes are more sophisticated; she's playing a woman in her forties, just starting to lose the edge of her glamour, but still a beautiful woman - this is much harder than Jennifer Love Hewitt's role, but she manages it with panache. It's very easy to see how a man could fall for either (or both) of these women.

    Gene Hackman's character is quite one-dimensional - he's the tobacco tycoon who's addicted to his product, and filthy rich (emphasis on filthy!). If anything, his role is the big disappointment of this movie. I don't want to spoil the movie, so I won't explain, but I really feel they could have done so much more with this character, particularly, um, afterwards (you'll understand when you see it).

    The only nice guy in the movie is Jack (Jason Lee). He's not one-dimensional (oh, close, but not quite), and you can become fond of him quite easily. Even Dean (Ray Liotta) becomes more interesting as the movie progresses. I thought Anne Bancroft's scenes were fun - she seemed to be relishing her few moments on-screen.

    There are some marvellously funny moments, including an amusing musical number from Sigourney Weaver. There's some witty dialogue.

    The endings are variable - one is nice (if predictable), one is difficult to believe (a bit too neat) - you'll see.

    I can't recommend this unconditionally, but it's rather fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can ascertain, that is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The image is adequately sharp on close-ups, but more than a little soft otherwise. Shadow detail is fine, both in brightly lit scenes and in darker footage. There is no low-level noise.

    Colour is bright and accurate. There are no traces of colour-bleed or over-saturation.

    There are some ugly film artefacts in the opening scenes, but they seem to die (mostly) out after the first ten minutes or so. Perhaps the ugliest is a blob on Jennifer Love Hewitt's temple at 10:55, but there are numerous hairs on the film during the credits. There's also a white mark (fingerprint?) at 87:37. There is some ugly flaring on night scenes where car headlights, or floodlights, are involved.

    There are no significant traces of aliasing, but there's some moiré (never troubling). There's little in the way of background shimmer. There are a few moments of what might be nasty edge enhancement, but I think it's either video ringing or a compression artefact - it manifests itself as ghosting / haloing on foreground material, including subtitles and credits, as well as people.

    The only subtitles are English captions. They are nicely placed, with each of the subtitles under the speaker. They are accurate, well-timed, and easy to read. I'd have preferred them to be placed in the black bar under the picture, but you can't have everything.

    The disc is single-sided, single layer (the cover claims dual layer - it's lying!). Can't complain about the lack of a layer change, but it may imply a touch more compression than would have been best.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The soundtrack is available in one language - English. It is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, at the higher rate of 448 kbps.

    The dialogue is clear and comprehensible at all times. There are no signs of audio sync problems.

    The score is credited to John Debney, but the Heartbreakers theme (a repetitive and somewhat irritating sequence) is credited to Danny Elfman. The incidental music is perfectly okay. There are a lot of contemporary songs in this soundtrack, carefully chosen for appropriate lyrics.

    The surround content of this soundtrack is limited, subtle, but effective. The subwoofer is in fairly constant use supporting the bottom register of the score, but not effects (there are no massive explosions).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras - not too surprising for a disc that started as a rental release, but disappointing for a retail release.

Menu

    The menu is static, with music - there is little to choose anyway.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this was released almost a year ago. This is a Special Edition, with a pile of extras.

    The Region 1 version of this disc is missing:

    The Region 4 version of this disc is missing:

    The Making-of is nothing special, but the Laffs and gaffes featurette is rather fun. The commentaries are interesting. The deleted scenes are well worth watching, providing some insights into the directions the film was going before editing.

    The transfers are not drawn from the same high def source (the hairs on the opening credits sequence are different), but the same ugly blob appears on Jennifer Love Hewitt's face (at 11:32 on this NTSC transfer) so it must be part of the original source material (I would have expected them to touch up something like that). The transfers show similar levels of artefacting - there is really nothing to tell them apart.

    If you just want the movie, the Region 4 disc is fine, as the transfer is equivalent and it is rather cheaper. If you want extras, then the Region 1 is your only alternative.

Summary

    A comedy of varying entertainment value, on an imperfect, but reasonable, DVD.

    The video quality shows some artefacts, but it's not too bad.

    The audio quality is very good.

    No extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
The Region 4 is VASTLY inferior - Metaphor REPLY POSTED
Brilliant movie - Geoff (read my bio)