Uncaged - Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) & Amos & Andrew (1993)
This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me.
Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
This comedy hasn’t aged well. The main premise is quite reprehensible. Nicolas Cage’s character plays a commitment-phobic private investigator who finally gives into his girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker)’s demands to take the next step. He suggests getting married in Vegas over the weekend, but once there, a wealthy gambler (James Caan) takes a shine to the girlfriend since she looks like his deceased wife and tricks Cage’s character into playing a losing poker game against him. Having no way to pay off the debt, Caan then basically proposes that Cage pimp out his girlfriend for the weekend. Just hearing that premise made my skin crawl, although I guess a really clever director and a sharper screenwriter could have made this an incisive comedy of seduction, or at least given Sarah Jessica Parker’s character more agency. Here, she is more than game, and she does the best with what is given to her. She never appears shrill or unappealing, especially because the story is clearly structured to make her seem that way to some extent. Also, she had proven before and would prove later in Sex and the City how good of a comic actor she was, but she is mostly playing a damsel in distress, almost falling for Caan’s lies and cajoling. Cage doesn’t quite make his character sympathetic when he really needed to, especially with his decision early on (which again - reprehensible). Caan is actually pretty decent as a smooth player but also as a vulnerable old man, so it’s not unbelievable that Parker’s character would soften on him a little. I would say this movie had a lot of potential, but I didn’t like its original conceit anyways, so I won’t.
Amos & Andrew (1993)
Amos & Andrew could have been a great movie that would have been unfortunately relevant even today. An esteemed Black author Andrew Sterling, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is mistaken for a thief in his own, upscale house and is shot at by the police. To cover up his mistake, the police chief gets a criminal named Amos Odell (Cage) to take the fall and pretend to take Andrew hostage. I was on board for maybe five minutes of this movie, but when this thing turned out to almost be a comedy of errors with characters just missing each other and plot developments happening simply because characters were bad at communicating, I started checking out. There are some facile conversations about how both sides are in the wrong somewhat, which comes off as even more tone-deaf with years of hearing that kind of bullshit rhetoric. But the movie seems much more concerned with its comic set-pieces, such as Bob Balaban playing a hostage negotiator talking into a megaphone about his own issues rather than trying to free the supposed captive. Also, the music is light and upbeat, which felt jarring to me since this subject matter is much darker, and while the movie didn’t have to be super-serious, it should have at least been appropriate to what is happening on screen. I mean, a man is threatening another man with a shotgun, and those scenes aren’t really played (or played well) for laughs. This movie aims to be a cutting social satire, but ends up being a shallow, patronizing joke that misses its mark by about as wide a margin as possible.