I hate, absolutely hate television shows and films that follow the formula utilized in Andrew Bergman's 'Honeymoon in Vegas.' There is no other word for my feelings towards this type of product, one that has a bad situation spiral ridiculously out of control, that could have easily been prevented at any point before or during the escalating inanity, solely by its characters acting in the manner by which we were introduced to them. These types of stories are a dime a dozen, with almost every single one sporting a happy ending that should have capped the first act and ended the story. Instead, apparently, there are plenty of writers who want to put their characters, and the audience, through sheer hell.
So what is 'Honeymoon in Vegas,' if anything other than an exercise in patience? Films with no real gags or jokes whatsoever don't count as comedies. This isn't so much a relationship drama as much as it is a twisted wife swap tale inspired either by 'Indecent Proposal' or those 1970's Yankees pitchers. There's less romance than a film directed by Rob Rotten. I just find it amazing that a man whose writing played a part in 'Fletch' and 'Blazing Saddles' was responsible for this...though remembering he's also partially responsible for 'It Could Happen to You' put things back in perspective.
This is the story of a love triangle that should have never existed. Jack (Nicholas Cage) feels that Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is the love of his life, yet, due to some mommy issues, he hasn't been able to commit to the relationship. Naturally, after a while, Betsy tires of being the girlfriend, and wants something more, leading to a surprise trip to Las Vegas for a quick marriage (because the courthouse is so unromantic and far away, despite being about 2,000 miles closer). While there, Tommy seemingly subconsciously sabotages his one day engagement by blowing off his bride-to-be to play poker with a man who is obsessing about Betsy. In short time, Tommy finds himself $65,000 in the hole to Tommy Korman (James Caan), and the only way he can get out of his debt is to loan Betsy to the card shark for the weekend.
A note to all those curious: true love doesn't mean loaning out your girlfriend to some random stranger who fantasizes about her. 'Honeymoon in Vegas' sure does tug at the heartstrings, though, by giving us some realistic predicaments and scenarios for the characters to comedically overcome. Only, it does none of that. It's a painful, painful ninety minutes of awful scene after awful scene, inhabited by horribly disgusting, despicable, selfish, moronic characters who are utterly unlikable. Hell, it doesn't even have trademark Nicolas Cage psychopathic freak outs, despite having the obvious set ups with the giant bushy fake mustache on my favorite lunatic. Wasted potential.
That was one of the biggest problems in the film, believe that or not. Why ever cast Nicolas Cage in a film like this (a supposed comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously), if he's not going to go truly off the deep end insane?! That's what he's good at, that's what he's known for nowadays, he did it a few years earlier in 'Vampire's Kiss,' and perfected his craft the next year in 'Deadfall.' Yet, there's no swapping faces, no punching women while wearing bear suits, no dragging people down the street until they piss blood, nothing. Not even bees.
And then, there was Sarah Jessica Parker. If this were her film debut, I may have been a bit more understanding, but Carrie herself had been in a number of TV shows and movies. While Cage doesn't bring the insanity, Parker doesn't bring the anything. She's bland, yet incessantly naggy and annoying, and every single line of dialogue from her sounds truly out of place, inflection-wise. Her character is also a true piece of work, that goes from not liking the situation to wanting to marry some random dude in about three days, not giving a bloody damn about the man she wanted to marry before. She complains about how Jack is trying to make her a whore, yet she's the guilty party. I mean, it isn't all that hard to resist the "charms" of lecherous old men, and stay committed to one's relationship. In fact, that's one of those things that quality relationships are built on: not wanting to marry and/or run off with curly haired geriatric mobsters. Yet, by story's end, Jack wants nothing more than the woman who wanted to marry some other dude. I'm sure Betsy wouldn't have been so thrilled if Jack found himself someone new, whose job ironically resides on The Strip.
This is a film that is an eyesore on all levels. The acting of the principals is awful. Supporting actors (including Pat Morita) mail it in, confusingly. Background actors (particularly Asian singing Elvis Eddie, the worst over-actor in history) steal nearly every scene, in the wrong way. The barrage of Elvis impersonators is cute, and I'm sure it was heaven for Cage, considering he once got married seemingly only to be with someone with the same genetic material as "The King." Yet, it also opens the door for child-Elvis, a poor young kid roped into making a fool of himself, forever captured on film, shaking for reasons he doesn't know why, not sure what's going on, and why his hair is so bloody ridiculous. We have a guy who we never saw play poker before think he's going to go beat on some bumpkins (his words!), while in Las Vegas, and doesn't even know how to fold a single hand. He isn't even playing with his own money, yet ends up over sixty G's under. The entire subplot concerning Jack's inability to commit due to his mother's deathbed wish is something the film could have done completely without and still have made sense; he's a guy, that's all the reason anyone needs to set up he has commitment issues!
'Honeymoon in Vegas' is a film that relies solely on characters acting out of character, making only the worst decisions, and then laughing as things go out-of-hand in a hurry. There is no moral to the story, other than "don't let James Caan bogart your lady." Now you know, folks. There is no reason to feel sympathy for any of the three leads, since they're all such contemptible assholes. An atrocity of a "film," 'Honeymoon in Vegas' can't even get the Nic Cage fanatic in me to ever want to see it again.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'Honeymoon in Vegas' reminds me of those budget Anchor Bay releases, or early Warner Bros. Blu-rays. They have little to no pre-menu content, the film starts without any menu prompt or warning, and while some WB titles don't share this trait, the video and audio qualities seem like they were merely thrown onto the format, without a single second's worth of quality control applied. There is a pop up menu, though, even if there isn't an actual menu screen.
This release is currently only available at Target stores across the country (and not on their online site!), for a measly 9.99, along with a number of other MGM titles (including standalone versions of the two unreleased Man with No Name films, as well as the original 'Magnificent Seven,' 'Overboard,' 'The Cutting Edge,' and 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'), with no announced release date for any other retailer. There is a clear sticker designating the exclusive status. Unfortunately, not all Target stores carry these titles, and at those that do, they aren't always easy to find, as some stock the entire wave in an endcap, while other stores mix them into their shelves alphabetically.
With a 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encode (at 1.85:1) in tow, 'Honeymoon in Vegas' fails to go to the next step, to steal the poor dialogue in the film. Sure, it's going to be a great pick up for the fans of the film, considering the DVD release was fullscreen, back in the days when that meant 1.33:1, but besides that, this release is questionable at best.
The film has problems with grain fluctuation, as entire sequences are nearly clear, but others are inundated with a ridiculous swarm of detail obscuring grain that attacks the screen like those bees attack that stupid kid in 'My Girl.' Dirt specks and scratches are fairly easy to find, particularly in the first act of the film, as are some incredibly soft, hazy shots that lack any definition whatsoever aside from being a series of random colors. Skin tones can randomly go purple and orange, even in single scenes, skin tones can go from normal and lively in their detail and character to completely shadowed and dark with no discernible details (check out the scene with Caan talking to his lacky by the pool early). Crushing stalks black levels, you never see one without the other. Night and low lit sequences are an absolute disaster, with horrid skin tones, no clarity whatsoever, and awkward tints that permeate everything. Colors occasionally flicker. Textures are flat regularly, as is the entire picture.
It's a shame, really, as not all is bad here. The Hawaii scenes, for the most part, look pretty damn good, with good picture depth, great colors, actual detail in faces, and even random peach fuzz viewable from a mile away. Heck, even Cage's five o'clock shadow becomes clear, rather than a grey smear on his (sometimes) pink face. 'Honeymoon in Vegas' is an ugly, poor film, so it's perhaps fitting that the Blu-ray release matches. I have no hesitation in calling this a dump title.
'Honeymoon in Vegas' has a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that honestly isn't horrible, but isn't anywhere near amazing. Every line of dialogue is understandable, although there are some questionable dynamics and a few awkward, hollow pitches here and there that don't match the settings of a scene. The title sequence, sadly, is the highlight, as the rest of the film is mostly a talker, with the occasional bit of questionable lip sync. There's some bass in the awful, awful Elvis impersonator (cover, but still) tracks, but where I had the most problem was with the ambience levels. We're talking about a film taking place in New York City and Las Vegas, two fairly crowded areas, yet there are numerous crowded scenes that seem absolutely empty save for the actions of the main characters. It's awkward, at best. I'm sure this is a big step forward from the DVD release, but it's a no frills, nothing special track that fails to impress and has a few questionable moments.
The only extra on this release is the Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min) for the film.
'Honeymoon in Vegas' is a bad film, there's no doubt in my mind. Between Cage playing the straight man, Parker playing the love interest, and Caan playing a borderline rapist, there's really nothing to enjoy. The scenarios are beyond ridiculous, while the dialogue, particularly that in the waning moments of the film between reunited loves in penultimate Las Vegas attire, is mind numbingly unbelievable. It's just a recipe for unfunny disaster. Speaking of which, guess what this Blu-ray is? That's right, a borderline disaster! It's a good thing this release is currently a store exclusive, as it's truly a waste of money and space in the shelves. The DVD may be outdated, but so is the Blu-ray, right out of the gates.