Honeymoon in Vegas
by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray from MGM Home Entertainment.
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While some men lose their shirts in Vegas, Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage) loses his fiance. A single misplayed hand of poker finds Jack life-threateningly indebted to a charming but dangerous mobster, who wants nothing more than a weekend with Jack’s bride-to-be, Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker). Thus begins Honeymoon in Vegas, a comedy that boasts an impressive cast, including Nicolas Cage, James Caan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Peter Boyle, Pat Morita, and Tony Shalhoub.
Here, Caan plays the aforementioned mobster, Tommy Korman, a bigshot gambler not wholly unlike the one he played in 1974’s The Gambler. Admittedly, Tommy Korman appears at first to be the complete antithesis of The Gambler’s Axel Freed. Tommy is a winner. He’s a man who makes his luck, especially when it comes to gambling, and, more importantly, he has the money to back up his bets. He and Axel have one major thing in common, though, and that is their unwillingness to alter their ways, even when it could cost them the ones they love. Why am I mentioning this when Tommy’s not exactly the main character in Honeymoon in Vegas? Because that’s what I was thinking about while watching the film this time around— not about the film itself, but a how a single character in the film stacks up against another film’s character. And I found the study of this correlation between Caan’s characters to be more rewarding than the film itself, for Honeymoon in Vegas ultimately fails to live up to its promise of a “jackpot with big laughs.”
After all, the film is supposed to be a comedy, but there are really no more than a handful of genuine laughs to be found throughout. And the majority of those involve Nicolas Cage screaming at people, so it’s almost through no fault of the filmmakers that the film is funny at all. Granted, it’s not an unbearable viewing experience or anything. Certainly the film’s acting talent alone is enough to hold your interest. But it just isn’t funny. And that’s surprising given that the film’s writer/director Andrew Bergman had previously written The Freshman (1990) and storied Blazing Saddles. As a matter of fact, the most blatant attempts at humor in Honeymoon in Vegas are ultimately downright embarrassing. For instance, there are a lot of Elvis impersonators throughout the film. This is played as a running gag. The observation here is obviously that there are many Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas. But is that even a joke? Maybe it’s not a joke. But if it isn’t, what’s with all the Elvis covers on the film’s soundtrack? I don’t get it. Another non-joke finds Peter Boyle portraying some sort of Native American Chief who is obsessed with film musicals. It’s not so much funny as it is wholly sad and embarrassing.
Perhaps the thing I find most entertaining about the release itself is the obvious attempt on the part of the packaging designers to cash in on the success of Sex and the City. With Sarah Jessica Parker front and center, the pink lettering, and the blurred, cityscape background, the cover art bears no small resemblance to that of the Sex and the City movie, if you simply replaced the rest of the girls with Nicolas Cage and James Caan (something the series’ reluctant male viewership would no doubt love to have seen).
The film is presented here in a 1080p HD transfer from an exceptionally clean print. The transfer offers beautifully captured film grain, but is otherwise plagued with a number of issues that come and go at random throughout the course of the picture. For instance, the sharpness of the image fluctuates wildly, and while the colors should have been consistently vibrant throughout, they have a tendency to become suddenly desaturated for a time and then return to normal. The only bonus feature included on the disc is the theatrical trailer.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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