A recent trip to Las Vegas has prompted me to re-watch some of the better movies set in Sin City, including Casino, Oceans Eleven, The Hangover, 21, and my personal favorite (and this week’s Cinema Sips pick), Honeymoon in Vegas (DVD/Download). This film gives a bit of an outdated view of The Strip (prompting my mother and I both to wonder- Is Bally’s even there anymore?) but even without Cirque du Soleil ads and trendy restaurants, it’s still a delightful romp about the dangers of gambling, the dry heat of the desert, and the timeless hilarity of Elvis impersonators.
Honeymoon In Vegas is one of the better films to come out of Nicholas Cage’s weird-n-wild oeuvre, only because in this one, his intense, slightly insane mannerisms really work for the character. He plays private investigator Jack Singer, a man terrified of marriage who nevertheless proposes to his longtime girlfriend Betsy (played by Sarah Jessica Parker). They run off to Vegas to elope, but before they can get to the chapel, he enters a rigged poker game set up by mobster Tommy Korman (played by James Caan). Of course Jack loses, and instead of paying money that he doesn’t have, he agrees to let his girlfriend spend the weekend with the mobster. James Caan takes SJP to Hawaii while Nicholas Cages runs around like a chicken with its head cut off, and hijinks ensue. Some great cameos to look for are Pat Morita (aka Mr. Miyagi) as the Hawaiian taxi driver, as well as little baby Bruno Mars singing his heart out as a child Elvis impersonator. The story is ridiculous, but it always gets me excited for Las Vegas, and hopeful that one day I’ll actually spot an Indian Elvis wearing a turban. It’s like seeing a Yeti.
On the cocktail front, I had the good fortune of attending some great Texas Tiki Week events last week. I always look forward to the last week of June because it means Austin becomes a sea of rum drinks in commemorative tiki glasses. How appropriate then to mix up a classic tiki drink to enjoy while watching Sarah Jessica Parker flaunt her perfect body on the beaches of Hawaii. When watching Honeymoon in Vegas, I recommend drinking a Mai Tai.
1oz light rum
1oz dark rum
½ oz lime juice
½ oz orange curacao
½ oz orgeat syrup
Maraschino cherry and fresh lime for garnish
Pour all of the ingredients except the dark rum into a shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well, then strain into an old-fashioned glass (or Tiki mug if you have it) half filled with ice. Top with more chipped ice, then add the dark rum. Garnish with a cherry, lime, and a drink umbrella.
As much as I love Vegas, my favorite parts of this film are definitely the Hawaii scenes. Watching Nicholas Cage shout Kapa’aa into a pay phone just makes my year. And let’s not forget the South Pacific sing-along with Peter Boyle’s island chief. As a child I often wondered how the parakeet brandy they drink was made- crushed feathers? Beaks? Even knowing the actual alcohol mix now, it’s still not much more appetizing. So I would say, stick with the Mai Tai, and never forget- if you’re about to jump out of an airplane dressed as Elvis, it’s yellow, then red. Kabluna, and Cheers!