Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage) has a burden to carry through life ever since he was with his mother (Anne Bancroft) when she died in hospital, imploring him with her dying breath not to get married because no woman would ever love him as much as she would. As a private detective, Jack sees evidence of how romance is a sham every day what with all those marriages he has to investigate failing before his very eyes, though that has not prevented him getting a girlfriend, schoolteacher Betsy Nolan (Sarah Jessica Parker) who would be delighted if he put the past behind him and settled down with her as her husband. As their relationship goes off the boil, Jack realises he has to make a leap of faith: how about a Las Vegas wedding?
In the later period of Nicolas Cage's career, where he was apparently agreeing to any old rubbish to pay off his bills, that included styling himself as an action hero patterned after his mid-nineties hits such as Con Air and Face/Off, though often on a lower budget. By this point his fans were mostly hoping he would behave as crazily as possible to live up to his offscreen persona as an impenetrable eccentric, making it easy to forget his filmography included many tries at positioning himself as a romantic lead which culminated in his Oscar for that other Vegas movie starring Cage, Leaving Las Vegas; please do not get these two mixed up. Very different experiences.
He won an Oscar for the more downbeat of his nineties excursions to the gambling capital of the world, but this was regarded as a piece of fluff even back then, part of its writer and director Andrew Bergman's attempts to bring back the sensibilities and plotting of the classic screwball comedies of Hollywood on which subject he was an expert. He had emerged as a part of Mel Brooks' coterie of talents, co-writing Blazing Saddles for one, which would explain why there were a number of Brooks-related faces popping up in this, but by the time he got the chance to helm his own scripts he largely conjured up middling affairs with strong premises but without the actual jokes to carry them through to truly front rank movies, as if he was relying on the kooky narratives for the laughs.
To be fair, as with Honeymoon in Vegas, although it was not tremendously hilarious it did build to a grand finale which saw Cage join a troupe of Elvis-impersonating skydivers leaping out over the city in an act of desperation to win Betsy back: Blazing Saddles' Burton Gilliam had a plum role as their leader, pitching the performance just right and genuinely securing the laughs that you might have wished had been more forthcoming during the previous eighty minutes. During those, the high concept took a while to establish as on arrival in Vegas shady gambler and all round hard man Tommy Korman (James Caan, named after Harvey Korman, you had to assume) notices the couple in a hotel lobby and is struck by Betsy's resemblance to his late wife. From then on, he must have her as his own.
Korman sets up a rigged poker game with the fiancée as the prize, and since Jack is now heavily in debt he has to "give" Betsy to him or risk financial or personal injury on a devastating scale. Korman whisks her away to Hawaii and if you're thinking, hmm, sounds a bit like Indecent Proposal, in its favour this was a far better movie and a lot more believable as it played out to boot. The Elvis Presley motif didn't extend to the storyline - you wouldn't have had The King of Rock 'n' Roll in the role of such a loser, no matter what his romantic woes were - but Cage as a huge fan of the star must have signed on for cool by osmosis, even getting to wear a rhinestone jumpsuit (that lights up) in latter day Elvis style. The film was decked out in impersonators of various shapes, sizes, ages and colours (including a six-year-old Bruno Mars) and offered a vivid backdrop to what was really a silly love story asking you to accept Betsy would have second thoughts about marriage when Korman started sweet talking her. Get over that and this was nice enough. Music by David Newman, lots of Elvis covers too.