The life of a hard-bitten con artist is turned around when she tries to bilk a small-town mechanic out of a fortune he will soon inherit in THE CON, a likable if unmemorable made-for-cable romantic comedy.
In desperate need of $125,000 to pay back a mob loan, Detroit con artist Barbara (Rebecca De Mornay) appeals to former partner and mentor Harry (Mike Nussbaum). He tells her about a Mississippi mechanic, Bobby Sommerdinger (William H. Macy), who doesn't realize that he is about to inherit $2
million from the father he never knew, now on his death bed. Barbara moves to Bobby's town and, more by accident than design, gets a job teaching the fifth grade. She meets Bobby, a withdrawn middle-aged man wary of her attempts to get to know him; he, meanwhile, assumes his aunts put her up to
it. But he eventually warms to her, and she gets him into bed and to the altar. What Barbara doesn't know is that Bobby learned about the inheritance several days before the wedding; surmising her motives, he marries her anyway. After their honeymoon, Bobby tells her about the inheritance, but
says that they won't have the money for awhile because of lawsuits. Learning that this isn't true, and with the mob breathing down her neck, Barbara leaves town. But her conscience and her unsuspected feelings for Bobby force her back to confess and to warn him. He sees her shot and apparently
killed by gunmen. After her funeral, Bobby sells his garage and leaves town--along with Barbara: the two of them faked her death so that they could start a new life together.
THE CON was cowritten by star William H. Macy, known for his frequent collaborations with playwright/filmmaker David Mamet. While it's unfair to expect Macy to have soaked up Mamet's singular style, con artists are so dear to Mamet's oeuvre that the expectation is perhaps inevitable. By that
standard, THE CON is a bit of a letdown. It's a thoroughly nice, even wholesome movie whose few touches of violence (most of which take place offscreen) seem out of place. At times it seems to be heading for the direction of DOC HOLLYWOOD (1991) or Bill Forsythe's delightful LOCAL HERO (1982) by
turning the city slicker/country rube genre on its ear, but that never quite happens either, despite some scenes of slick Barbara being taken by surprise by small-town life. Mostly THE CON is a pleasant comedy of the type in which cable television seems to specialize: mildly sentimental and
inoffensively adult, with sturdy characters that give actors something to do but don't overly tax them. (Violence, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: The life of a hard-bitten con artist is turned around when she tries to bilk a small-town mechanic out of a fortune he will soon inherit in THE CON, a likable if unmemorable made-for-cable romantic comedy. In desperate need of $125,000 to pay back a mob l… (more)