Monday, 9 February 2015

Review: Honeymoon in Vegas

This week I am reviewing the 90's romantic comedy Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), starring Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. 

(C) Castle Rock Entertainment and New Line Cinema 

Honeymoon in Vegas is about Jack Singer, who on his mother's deathbed, promises never to marry. Years later he is working as a private eye following cheating couples, and has lovely girlfriend called Betsy. However, their relationship starts to get into trouble as Betsy grows tired of waiting for him to marry her - so Jack takes the plunge and go to Las Vegas to marry. 

Once in Vegas, a rich and influential gambler called Tommy Korman notices Betsy, and her uncanny resemblance to his dead wife. Determined to get her, he invites Jack to a poker game and ensures Jack ends up owing him a lot of money. He then offers to forget the debt if Jack lets him spend the weekend with Betsy. Unable to refuse, since they have don't have enough money, Betsy agrees to the deal. Tommy then sweeps Betsy off to Hawaii, making it clear that Jack will have to fight to win her back. 

I thought this film had some good raw material in it - two great locations, a wonderful cast and a few good ideas - but in the end, it amounted to a pretty tepid movie. 

The beginning is narrated over by Jack, explaining what he does and talking about his girlfriend, only for this narration to fall away completely just after everyone arrives in Vegas. I realise that this is perhaps a way of setting up the story, but the opening scenes where explanation enough. Why tell us his girlfriend works as teacher when in the scene its obvious that she's a teacher?

Also, from a writer's perspective, I couldn't see why their relationship was introduced at the happy stage only for the narrative to skip ahead to a year down the line, when it wasn't great - in basically the first few minutes. Why not just open with the couple having problems? We'd already jumped ahead four years after the pre-titles scene with his mother, now two minutes later, we're skipping again? 

This isn't the only time the film is badly paced. The poker game just takes too long. It feels like you're spending a good chunk of time watching it and though intriguing, if you like poker, the main focus should be the romance - Jack and Betsy's relationship and Tommy's wooing of Betsy. This is a rom-com film after all. 

There are other problems, but I feel I should mention some nice moments. I liked the use of sepia in the flashbacks to Tommy's wife, and the fact that Betsy and Jack argue about the deal first of all round a boxing ring during a fight, and then in front of kids at an arcade, which is amusing. Finally the ending with the sky diving Elvis' was a brilliant visual to finish on. Its just a shame that by the end I didn't really feel invested enough in the characters to care that they were together - I was actually more interested in how sparkly they looked in their outfits. 

In summary
Though I can see potential in the great cast, locations and some of the ideas behind the film, Honeymoon in Vegas just doesn't manage to use them effectively enough. It fumbles about and the end result, though rather wacky and occasionally amusing, didn't feel particularly romantic to me. 

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