I really, really wanted to like Honeymoon in Vegas, the sweet-‘n’-zany new comedy about a guy, a gal, a gangster, and a planeload of skydiving Elvis impersonators. I mean, how could a movie featuring the Flying Elvises be anything less than…entertaining?

Here’s how. In Honeymoon in Vegas, Nicolas Cage plays an earnest, mother-whipped nebbish, and Sarah Jessica Parker—who’s like Madonna as a Vassar lit major—is his improbably sexy schoolteacher girlfriend. The two arrive in Vegas, where Cage, after much arm-twisting, has agreed to tie the knot. That’s when they’re spotted by James Caan, a professional gambler and thug who thinks the willowy Parker is the spitting image of his dead wife. Smitten, he tricks Cage into joining a rigged poker game and bilks him out of $60,000. Then he & offers him a deal: Forget the money and give me your fiancee for the weekend.

Director Andrew Bergman (The Freshman, So Fine) is once again trying for the spinning-gizmo spirit of Preston Sturges. As always, he takes a ”classical” Hollywood-farce setup and sprinkles it with nut-brained eccentricities. It’s harder to make this sort of thing work, though, with jaded, contemporary characters. Honeymoon in Vegas falls apart as soon as Parker heads off for her weekend with Caan. This macho granite-head takes her on a dream date to Hawaii, and before you can say ”Cinderella,” she’s melting into a gushy puddle, cooing over sunsets, volcanoes, the spacious splendor of Caan’s getaway home. She even meets his son and grandchild and gets a family-values shine in her eye.

The trouble is, I didn’t believe any of this. Parker is supposed to be a level-headed woman falling under temporary romantic hypnosis, but instead she is made to look like a complete simp. These scenes needed to work not as warmed-over princess fantasy but as comedy, as screwball play.

Some of the stuff around the edges is fun. Peter Boyle is in good form as a daffy tribal ”chief” who adores Broadway musicals. And Cage shows some of the puppyish ardor he had in Valley Girl. He throws a great tantrum in an airport, but mostly it’s a relief to see him drop his wild-man-of-Borneo shtick and act like a person again. Then, of course, there are those wacky Flying Elvises. What a concept! Come to think of it, they were so funny I forgot to laugh. C+

Honeymoon in Vegas
  • Music