“…I won’t be a girlfriend forever.”
Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage) has a big problem. His girlfriend, Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is ready to be married, but Jack remembers his mother’s dying warning that he should promise to never get married. Torn between the two women he loves most in his life, Jack tries to pull the trigger on wedded bliss and takes Betsy to Vegas. Before the big moment, though, infamous gambler Tommy Korman (James Caan) decides that a weekend with Betsy could be a substitute for Jack’s owed Poker payout. Unfortunately, that could mean that Betsy chooses Tommy as her new husband.
A Note on the Video
There are many good parts of this movie, but Chief Orman (played by the late great, Peter Boyle) is the best part. This movie was a staple in our house, so it has a special place in my heart. Please enjoy this video clip, though it is unrelated to the love triangle centerpiece.
Although Jack is hesitant to get married, he does agree to the wedding eventually. He procrastinates with Poker, but the guy learns his lesson. It actually makes sense that he’s worried about getting married because his dying mom made him promise not to, but his and Betsy’s conversations reveal that she knows about this unique dilemma. In other words, Jack is honest with his girlfriend, but he does not want to let down his girlfriend or his mom.
It’s kind of sweet.
Sigmund Freud put a lot of stock in dreams as a basis for psychotherapy. As the field of psychology advanced, this idea got left by the wayside by many practitioners. We still don’t know a lot about the brain, or the reasons why we dream, so it seems unfair to basis psychiatric treatment on the odd events of a night’s sleep.
However, there are studies on dream interpretation and some universally accepted meanings of people, events, or objects in dreams themselves. A dream analyst would have a lot to talk about with Jack, since he dreams about his mom a lot. A less experienced analyst would theorize that Jack is working out his anxiety about betraying his dead mother while he sleeps.
I’m not sure what they would say about his mom being naked, though.
Besides trying to replace his dead wife with lookalike live specimen (gross), Tommy exhibits some characteristics of a personality disorder. For reference, Arthur Fleck from Joker has the same diagnosis; maybe they can room together in the psych ward! Like physical illnesses or disorders, not all mental illnesses manifest the same way in everyone. Let’s break it down.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Called sociopaths, people with this personality disorder are often dangers to others. While Hollywood may have you believe everyone with a mental health problem is dangerous, this is not generally the case. Antisocial Personality Disorder may be the one exception, though, as several serial killers, mass shooters, and gangsters have been known or speculated to have this disorder (including fictional ones, and that’s where I come in).
Violation of physical or emotional rights of others – The guy uses an overconfident gambler and his girlfriend in his twisted plot. Need I say more?
Aggression – Tommy keeps a lid on this most of the time, but he raises his voice with Jack and gets disturbingly hostile with Betsy when she has doubts about their romance. It’s easy to see that beneath his charm, Tommy can be very scary.
Impulsivity – Most people suffer from this now and again, but Tommy has made a career out of impulsiveness. Gambling is not for the faint-hearted and this is what Tommy does for a living. By the way, “borrowing” a man’s girlfriend because she looks like your dead wife is also pretty impulsive (not to mention, creepy as fuck).
Deceitfulness – Tommy lies well and lies a lot. He lies to Jack about the Poker game. He lies to Betsy about the Poker game. He lies to Betsy about Jack. He pays off his staff to manipulate them into lies with him. This isn’t someone who lies the way we all do, about their friend’s bad haircut or about how sick they are on that sunny Thursday so they can call into work just this once. This guy lies all the time to get what he wants. For Tommy Korman, deceit is a means to an end.
Poker? I Hardly Know Her.
While this isn’t a film criticism blog, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge Betsy’s character. Torn between two weirdos, I personally appreciate that Betsy holds her own in the film. She’s not a damsel in distress and though she is dating a commitment-phobe, she stands her ground and sticks up for Jack. She also doesn’t succumb to all of Tommy’s charm so easily; she just uses the free trip to Hawaii because why shouldn’t she? The second-best part of Honeymoon in Vegas (after Chief Orman) is that the story revolves around Betsy. She’s not a pawn in a game between Jack and Tommy; they are actually both pawns of hers.