Nicolas Cage in: Honeymoon in Vegas

Honeymoon in Vegas

Released in 1992 ▪ Review posted July 13, 2014

“Take my wife…please.”

Henny Youngman

The only thing worse than a movie based on misogynist stereotypes is a movie based on misogynist stereotypes starring Sarah Jessica Parker. No, this isn’t Sex and The City 2—it’s the 1992 comedy Honeymoon in Vegas, a nightmare on wheels that every cinephile should shun and forget.

It’s hard to know where to start with this awful pile of celluloidal horror. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Betsy, a woman whose identity depends on being married to a man. Dating won’t do, and obviously you can’t have kids or start a family without getting married first. Our hero plays Jack, her doting, gambling, emotionally damaged boyfriend. He’s been afraid of marriage ever since his mother, seconds before death, warned him never to marry anyone. Nonetheless, Betsy convinces Jack, and they fly to Las Vegas for a quick elopement.

In Vegas, tycoon Tommy Korman (James Caan) falls in love with Betsy at first sight. Why? Well, Betsy looks just like Donna, his dead wife. Seeking to replace Donna (in body only), Tommy rigs a poker game so Jack owes him $65,000. When Jack can’t pay, Tommy offers to forgive the debt if he can have a weekend away with Betsy. It’s pablum that portrays women as equivalent to a stack of plastic poker chips for the sake of comedy.

Despite the title, most of Honeymoon in Vegas takes place in Manhattan and Hawaii, with Betsy whisked off for much longer than one weekend, and Jack returning home to mope about losing his fiancée in a poker game. To me, what’s worse is that when Betsy is propositioned, she doesn’t tell Jack to fuck off for asking her to do this and setting it up in the first place, but instead agrees to the plan. Tommy woos her and they get engaged. Meanwhile, Jack repeatedly attempts to contact her and win her back, going through a condensed version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles while Tommy uses his seemingly limitless resources to block him at every turn.

The film eventually climaxes back in Las Vegas, with Jack dressed as Elvis and preparing to skydive onto the strip with a bunch of other Elvises in order to win Betsy back. To her credit, Betsy realizes that Tommy is a creep on her own, but it’s way too late in the story to redeem her. Then the best part of the movie happens: it ends.

I could write about how apt it is that Sarah Jessica Parker went on to spend a decade playing a female icon of Manhattan fashion and modern feminism, but was still obsessed with marriage and material goods. I could go on about how James Caan has phoned in every one of his roles since Sonny Corleone. Of everything there is to say, the most remarkable thing to me is that, despite having his own well honed Elvis impression, Cage doesn’t use it here. Despite the soundtrack being made up only of Elvis songs, despite the many other prominent Elvis impersonations throughout the film (including one by a very young Bruno Mars), and despite the fact that Nic is even dressed as Elvis for the climax, he never once adopts his pseudo-Elvis persona. It’s bizarre. Maybe he was directed not to? Maybe he knew he couldn’t out-Elvis all the other Elvises around him? We might never know.

What I do know is that this movie is offensive and boring. But Cage is passable, and this movie’s faults aren’t his. He isn’t exactly good, and he’s not terribly interesting, but he also stays out of full-on mope mode. He’s boring, and appropriately frustrated for someone who regrets gambling away the person they loved.

Honeymoon in Vegas was written by Andrew Bergman, who in spite of this steaming pile has written some funny and coherent satire. I’m not sure what went wrong here, but my best guess is that 1992 was just a time when most of the population accepted without question that women and Pacific Islanders were objects, and that wasn’t weird. Did I mention that Pat Morita, Peter Boyle, and several other minor characters do racist impressions of native Hawaiians? There’s some really thoughtless stuff in this movie.

Honeymoon in Vegas is contrived and stupid. It highlights no actor’s best attributes, except for maybe Sarah Jessica Parker’s body. It isn’t funny. It’s very racist. It has an animated title sequence. It’s bad. Just avoid it.

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