‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ – ’92 Cinema Revue

Note: As of this writing, the film is only available to rent via Apple TV.

Honeymoon in Vegas – #1 in the US (Aug. 28 – 30)

All-Time Domestic & Worldwide $35,208,854

Honeymoon in Vegas delivers some laughs but can feel dated in the long run despite two top-tier performers.

In the 30 years since Honeymoon in Vegas, Nicolas Cage has become one of the most loved actors of the modern age. Moonstruck and Raising Arizona showcased his talents pre-signature “Cage Rage” but with gentle heart and soul attached. Cage can and has proven to be a significant lead in a film. He also has excellent comedic timing, and considering this week’s movie, proves it once again. It’s his last big comedy before transitioning to more dramatic roles and dumb, fun action classics. No, this isn’t the one he wins the Best Actor Oscar for; that’s Leaving Las Vegas). Las Vegas was also transitioning from a “City of Sin” run by the mob to a more family-friendly version. Think of it like Chuck E. Cheese if the Skee-Ball machine gave out big jackpots instead of tickets. With Cage and Vegas settling into their new roles, Honeymoon in Vegas is a minor anomaly. 

Jack Singer (Cage) is a private investigator living in New York with his girlfriend, Betsy Nolan (Sarah Jessica Parker), who is ready to take the next step. Singer, haunted by his mom (Anne Bancroft) saying not to get married on her death bed, refuses, having made a promise. He goes back on that promise so they can get married in one place: Las Vegas. Upon arrival, local gangster Tommy Korman (James Caan) sees Betsy as a mirror image of his dead wife. He tricks Singer into a poker game that Singer can lose. If Singer loses, Korman gets to be with Betsy for an entire weekend. And when Singer eventually does, he must do everything in his power (with a lack of funds) to get her back. Oh, and there are a lot of Elvis impersonators along for the ride.

Vegas is a middle-of-the-road comedy with fun moments, thanks to Cage and Caan. These two are absolute stars in this film, with Cage as a terrific leader and Caan showing his comedic chops. But, unfortunately, the movie might suffer a bit from age being a moment in the 90s era rather than timeless.

Cage sells Singer’s urge to garner Betsy back no matter what it takes. It’s encouraging to see him have such love for Betsy, even if every turn seems to get the better of him, thanks to Tommy. Cage plays Singer’s reluctance to marriage and hapless self extremely great, giving us someone to sympathize with the audience rooting for them. Cage is hilarious when he is flustered and bumbling. He gets comically angry, not on the level of Vampire’s Kiss, but close. He is a solid person to get behind, overcoming unbelievable circumstances to get where he needs to be. The man travels from Las Vegas to Hawaii and then to Vegas again for Betsy. The only detriment of how Singer is portrayed is that the private eye part of his character is not used outside of the first 20 minutes. He loses out on money but does not go further investigating how his unbeatable flush was lost nor take time to figure out Tommy’s true intentions.

Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage) tries to get his girlfriend Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) to understand the bet. Source: Columbia Pictures

Tommy is one of the saddest villains in a film I’ve seen in a minute. It is not shown in front of us, mostly told, but Caan has his moments of subtly conveying it. Tommy is a man tortured and still in disbelief of his wife Donna’s passing, that he would do anything to get her back. What Tommy sees in Betsy is a spitting image but not the real deal. He’s in love with a dream he can never garner back. He may be a sad character, but that doesn’t make him genuinely sympathetic. He still is a bastard, using his wealth to garner what he wants and a jerkoff. Caan sells that element well too. The late great nailed the comedy aspects by being an affable villain. His fight with Cage on the island away from Betsy is hysterical, with them going toe-to-toe. Like with Ray Liotta before him, it’s odd to write about Caan in the past tense, given his recent passing.

The comedy itself is not overly broad nor lingering on potty humor. It’s over-the-top at points, such as with Peter Boyle as Chief Ostrom as a fake Hawaiian (yikes) in love with Broadway musicals. The overdone nature of the Elvises can be a bit grating with an Elvis impersonator in every other scene in the first act in Las Vegas, including a young Bruno Mars. That does have a payoff with 35 flying Elvi, including Cage himself looking snazzy in an Elvis suit of his own. That final scene is a big spectacle Vegas would gladly welcome. Vegas is the same town that made events out of hotel demolitions and pirate battles outside Treasure Island. It shows 90s Vegas to a T but can also feel like an over-long ad for the Bally’s casino, given their name is plastered throughout the movie.

Fun Fact: The Flying Elvi is a group of flying Elvis impersonators officially licensed from Elvis Presley Enterprises, created and formed after the film was released. Source: The Flying Elvi

The soundtrack, too, can be seen as archaic, relying on Elvis covers to get the job done with some great selections. There was an Elvis movie this year, so maybe the soundtrack for this film will be en vogue once more. Film soundtracks were big deals in the 80s and 90s, but that’s a discussion we can get to once The Bodyguard rolls around. The only significant detriment is that Parker is not given more to do than Betsy. She is the object of affection and does have heartwarming moments, yet she is not allowed to be as silly outside of disguising as a showgirl. Parker’s actual moment to shine on the big screen was not until the following year in 1993 with Hocus Pocus.

Honeymoon in Vegas delivers some laughs but can feel dated in the long run despite two top-tier performers. For fans of those two actors looking to complete seeing their respective filmographies, you could do way worse than Honeymoon in Vegas. 

Revue Rating: 3 out of 5

Next time, September begins with a heist of A-list proportions. It’s the cult classic Sneakers

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