Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 11, 2011)
With 1992ís Honeymoon in Vegas, we go back almost 20 years to a period in which Nicolas Cage still came across as an interesting, entertaining actor. At least, thatís what I thought back then Ė not having seen the flick since then, I wasnít sure how Iíd feel about it today. But I liked it then, so I thought Iíd give it another take.
On his motherís (Anne Bancroft) deathbed, Jack Singer (Cage) promises her that heíll never get married. (Why does she make this request? Sheís territorial with her son, I guess.) Four years later, Jack finds himself in love with Betsy Nolan (Sarah Jessica Parker) but in agreement with his dead mother; Jack works as a private detective who specializes in cheating cases, so those lead him to view marriage as a minefield to be avoided.
This eventually has an impact on the relationship, as Betsy grows more and more distant. Jack decides that he needs to put up or shut up, so he finally caves and proposes to Betsy. Jack thinks they should go ahead and do the deed right away, so they fly out to Las Vegas the next day.
Which they do, and their arrival coincides with that of Tommy Korman (James Caan), a big-time gambler in town to ply his trade. Tommy happens to see Betsy and feels stunned by her resemblance to Donna, his late, lost love.
Tommy badly wants to spend time with Betsy, so he contrives to bring Jack into a poker game. Inevitably, Jack loses Ė and loses big, as he ultimately owes Tommy $65,000.
Of course, Jack canít pay this, so Tommy provides a solution. If Jack lets Tommy spend the weekend with Betsy, heíll erase the debt. If not Ė curtains! Jack and Betsy agree to this deal, which drives Jack nuts Ė and gives Tommy a few days to convince Betsy to be with him instead of her fiancť.
As I noted earlier, I felt quite entertained by Vegas almost 20 years ago, so I was curious to see how itíd work for me. The answer? Okay, though not well enough to remind me why I liked it so much in 1992.
I suspect some of that comes from the disenchantment Iíve derived from Cageís work since 1992. Heís always been an acquired taste; with his mannerisms and quirks, he delivers oddball choices in his performance. 20 years ago, I loved his shtick, whereas now, Iím less wild about his work. Though that doesnít mean I dis Cageís turn here Ė I just donít find him to be as refreshing and delightful as I did in the past.
That said, Cage does manage to bring some life to a flick that could otherwise be pretty weak. The movie offers little plot and comes across more as a story notion than anything else. Itís essentially a wacky riff on Indecent Proposal that embraces its quirks at every turn.
If you like those choices, youíll like Vegas. Obviously they worked for me 20 years ago, but now Iím less wild about them Ė especially the climax with skydiving Elvis impersonators. That seemed funny in 1992 but now comes across as such a desperate attempt at wackiness that it leaves me cold.
Still, despite a thin plot, sitcom-level characters and some awfully broad comedy, Vegas has its moments. Maybe itís just nostalgia talking, but I think the film offers acceptable entertainment Ė if you dig vintage Nic Cage, at least. If not, itís a flick to avoid.