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Honeymoon in Vegas
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Honeymoon in Vegas is a '90s comedy that relies on outrageous situations, dimwitted characters who make foolish decisions, and a traditional romantic-story device (boy loves girl, boy loses girl, and, the climactic dilemma -- will boy get girl back?). Set in an extravagant Las Vegas invaded by Elvis Presley impersonators, the movie is a sexual farce without actual sex. Though there's plenty of innuendo, women in sexy clothes, and a plot that has its hero lending his beloved to a shady gambler for a weekend, there's no sexual activity other than a few bedroom scenes with cuddling and kisses between loving partners whose bare backs and shoulders are visible. Occasional obscenities throughout ("whore," "bastard," "screw," "piss," "bastard," "set of balls," "s--t"); drinking and smoking occur in numerous scenes without any drunken behavior. Cameo performances by popular celebrities and actors and a full Elvis Presley score sung by musical stars of 1992 are highlights. Lowlights include the "woman as chattel" mindset and the overall teasing emphasis on women as sexual objects.
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What's the story?
When Jack Singer's mom is on her deathbed, she makes her son promise never to marry. Sadly, in HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, Jack (Nicolas Cage), a mildly successful private detective whose specialty is finding cheating spouses, has taken his promise to heart. Though he's found Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker), who is truly "the one," he simply can't take the next all-important step. Finally, given Betsy's loving ultimatum, he promises to marry her in an impromptu trip to Las Vegas. There, in the middle of a rowdy weekend alive with assorted Elvis Presley impersonators, Jack gets cold feet once again. And, in case he hasn't messed things up enough, Tommy Corman (James Caan), a rich gambler, has spotted Betsy, who looks amazingly like his adored, dead wife. Tommy scopes out the situation and decides to have Betsy for himself. One crooked card game and a losing $65,000 hand later, Jack has been forced to "share" Betsy with Tommy for the weekend -- in all ways but sexually. Betsy is stunned, furious at Jack, and ever so slightly intrigued by Tommy's charisma. From there, it's a free-for-all. A glamorous escape to Hawaii, Jack's countless missteps (including an adventure with an all-Elvis sky-diving crew), along with Tommy's treacherous machinations keep Betsy off-balance and Jack in perennial bonehead mode. Will Jack save her from a fate that he himself has caused? Will Betsy realize she's being taken in by Tommy and escape his clutches by joining a line of Las Vegas chorus girls? Will true love conquer all? You betcha.
Is it any good?
Almost all the screwball comedy ingredients are in place: a fast-paced, farcical plot involving a hoped-for marriage, a divide between the classes, and ridiculous plot turns. Nick Cage and James Caan play the fools well; Sarah Jessica Parker manages to give her character some nuance and genuine feeling (all while looking great in the terrific wardrobe that was chosen for her). Andrew Bergman, the writer-director, uses iconic Elvis songs, covered by some major music stars of the 1990s (Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Billy Joel), to underscore the comic moments (for example, "Jailhouse Rock" as Jack spends some time in jail). And while there are some truly funny situations and witty repartee, as well as several terrific cameo performances (Peter Boyle, Pat Morita, Anne Bancroft, among others), they're not enough to sustain the dated plot and the central idea that one man can contract out "possession" of the woman he loves. Bergman had earlier successes with wonderful, character-rich comedies (The In-Laws,The Freshman), but Honeymoon in Vegas doesn't resonate today as those films do. There are funnier and more romantic screwball comedies for families to watch together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of Las Vegas as a setting for comedies. How does the city set the tone for this movie? What unique qualities does Las Vegas bring to the screen in terms of color, brightness, sets, costumes, and glamour for any film?
Research all the features that combine to make a "screwball" comedy. Which movies have you seen that are included in this genre of movies?
Made in 1992, the movie has a premise that a desperate Jack Singer promises Tommy Korman a weekend with Betsy. Do you think this could still be the premise for a comedy made today? Why, or why not?
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