Few things are more gratifying than witnessing, or perpetrating, an elegant scam. The con can be a superb act of screwing with the system, of exacting revenge for the relentlessly quotidian nature of human interaction, of swerving fate. Part of the premise for the movie Heartbreakers, in which Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play a mother-and-daughter con team, is a fervent understanding that men will screw women over, and that women must beat those suckers at their own petty game. And in this political moment when feminism is unspeakable and yet women still don't get equal pay, the premise makes for a sympathetic setup.

But as every cool-headed dealer knows, the revenge con never works; emotions, invariably, will trip you up. When Max (Weaver) and Page (Love Hewitt) swing into Palm Beach looking for a rich man, desperate because it seems the IRS has laid claim to all their cash, you feel the ending loom heavily. Heartbreakers doesn't aspire to Mamet-style con machinations, but neither does it lampoon the genre; instead, it treads a straightforward con-as-amusing-plot-contrivance approach.

And Heartbreakers is certainly amusing--Love Hewitt, smirking over a thick cigarette when approached with true love, reveals a dirtier side of her comic talent, and Gene Hackman's performance as the wealthy target is charmingly decadent--but its unimaginative approach will disappoint viewers who want to feel the wicked cinch of the complex con, the delight in traps snapping shut in various unseen corners. What Heartbreakers offers, instead, is the candy-rush sweetness of Hollywood true-love romance; a payoff, in a way, but one that proves unsatisfying in oh so many ways.

Now, instead of criticizing the innocuous Heartbreakers further, I will let you in on a secret: If, using your innocent web browser, you attempt to open the URL "congames.com" in an effort to learn more about the art of the con, you will be rudely shunted instead to a steamy nude-girl website. Someone, somewhere, is enjoying a sly little laugh about this html-based sleight-of-hand. None of us is innocent.