“The die was cast. If I just said City Hall the story would end here. But I didn’t, and Betsy and I took our fateful trip to Vegas.”
Everyone remembers the 1993 provocative film Indecent Proposal with Robert Redford as the rich playboy who offers Woody Harrelson a million bucks to spend a night with his wife, played by Demi Moore. The movie created quite a stir, and more than a little water cooler conversation about what you might do in that situation. What most people overlook, however, is that same kind of situation appeared a year earlier with a more romantic-comedy take in Andrew Bergman’s Honeymoon in Vegas. It wasn’t one of Bergman’s best and certainly not one of his most remembered films. Who can’t argue that The Freshman, The In-Laws (writer), and even Fletch (writer) were better movies? But you can’t escape the fact that Bergman was the first to offer up the conundrum that faced Moore and Harrelson a year later. But you probably don’t remember Honeymoon In Vegas. Not many folks do if the box office numbers are any indication. Now you have a second chance with this latest wave of catalog titles from MGM now out on Blu-ray.
Jack Singer (Cage) is a private detective with a hot girlfriend in Betsy (Parker). She wants to get married and have a family, but Jack promised his mother on her deathbed that he would never get married. After all, she reasoned, what girl could compare with dear old mom? But now the pressure is on because Betsy doesn’t plan to be just a girlfriend forever. In a moment of determination, Jack decides to take the plunge. They’re going to Vegas for a quickie marriage before he can change his mind. That’s when they run into mobster Tommy Korman (Caan). Turns out that Betsy looks exactly like his deceased wife. He decides he wants her and maneuvers Jack into owing him over 60 grand before the two can get married. Jack doesn’t have 60 grand, so Tommy gives him two options. One involves a lot of broken bones and certain hospitalization. The other involves Tommy getting Betsy for an extended weekend in Hawaii.
Once Tommy has Betsy alone, he preys upon her insecurities about Jack and before long has won her over to agreeing to marry him. But Jack isn’t giving up that easily. He makes a heroic attempt to get to Betsy before she marries the mobster with the expected manic results.
The film doesn’t really rely on Vegas as much as the title or synopsis implies. There is a bit of a heavy reference to Elvis in the many impersonators on the screen and the number of Elvis tunes in the soundtrack. The impersonators add a little laughter, but the joke gets taken a bit too far before the film is over. The entertainment here comes really from the clever bit of casting. Nicolas Cage appears a little out of his element here and is certainly not up to his best. Part of the problem for Cage is how effortlessly James Caan plays the hood Tommy Korman. He steals absolutely every scene, and it never looks like he’s trying at all. Caan is completely comfortable in the skin of Tommy and upstages everyone else with ease. Sarah Jessica Parker is there mostly for her looks, but she does provide a solid performance. She’s really only the bone of contention between the two male leads and spends much of the film in contemplative poses.
There is some magic to be found in the cameo performances here. Look for Pat Morita as a cab driver hired to detain Jack while Tommy is trying to woo her. Peter Boyle has a very brief part as a native chief with a love of show tunes. A young pre-Monk Tony Shalhoub plays the casino owner in two scenes. Ben Stein is an annoying patron at an airline counter. Johnny Williams has more than a cameo as Johnny Sandwich, Tommy’s right-hand man.
The story might be thin, but it’s entertaining enough to check it out now that it’s available on Blu-ray.
Honeymoon In Vegas is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 27 mbps. This just isn’t going to impress anyone as a high-definition image presentation. There is really no work at all performed on the print, and it looks only somewhat better than it did on DVD. There is a fair amount of grain and surface video noise. Colors appear somewhat faded. Don’t buy this for the video quality. Black levels are poor. There is a hint of color and sharpness in some of the Hawaii scenes, but it’s not going to dazzle anyone.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is as basic as they come. The songs come through but they really don’t sound at all dynamic. You can hear the dialog fine, and that’s really all you should ask for on this kind of a catalog title.
Cage would give us a much better Vegas performance three years later in Leaving Las Vegas. The truth is that no one is at their best here except maybe for James Caan. Pretty much everyone involved has given us much better things to fill our home theaters. It’s harmless. Like most of you out there, I never did catch this one when it was out in theaters. Now MGM has plopped it on my doorstep on Blu-ray. “This is God giving me a second chance, no doubt about it.”