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cast: Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, Rosie Perez, Wendell Pierce, and Isaac Hayes
director: Andrew Bergman
101 minutes (PG) 1994
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Sony blu-ray region B retail
review by Donald Morefield
It Could Happen To You
Unfairly bundled up with or pigeonholed alongside the likes of merely-average rom-com, Sleepless In Seattle (1993), this movie is actually
one of Hollywood's very best romantic comedies about modern fairy tale love and wish-fulfilment, that were made during the 1990s.
It's an apocryphal 'true story' about conscientiously honest New York cop, Charlie (Nicolas Cage), cheerful and supremely generous diner-waitress
Yvonne (Bridget Fonda), and the winning lottery ticket which - as coolest of all possible mcguffins - brings them together. Basically, in lieu of
a service tip, a temporarily-skint Charlie promises Yvonne a share of his lottery ticket, if he wins. When he does in fact win $4 million, Charlie's
rather whimsical - yet fateful - pledge costs him half of that, and more, but eventually rewards him with a greater joy.
We are assured, often enough, that money cannot buy love or happiness - but, if received in sufficient quantity (beyond the proverbial 'dreams
of avarice'), a cash payout will - quite obviously - free anyone from such economic hardships as the need to work or a struggle just to live, and
help acquire more satisfying leisure time - at least for a 'nouveau riche' person who knows what to spend a fortune on wisely and how to avoid
squandering a windfall.
Charlie's grasping wife Muriel (Rosie Perez) is a desperate social-climber. She falls prey to smarmy con-man Jack (Seymour Cassel), and she quickly
loses practically everything, including whatever boon she received in the court settlement from her inevitable divorce from 'unfaithful' husband
Charlie's NYPD partner Bo Williams (Wendell Pierce) is not just a background character. His timely advice to Charlie has a measurable impact in
the scenario. Mysterious 'homeless man' Angel (Isaac Hayes), who's also the narrator of this story, is really an undercover newshound, documenting
this rags-to-riches rise-and-fall tale, as human-interest journalism. Hayes' presence as Angel in the film grants the appealing drama a certain
quality of urban fable, adding considerable charm to the romantic fiction.
Written by a woman, TV writer and producer Jane Anderson; directed by a man, Andrew Bergman - maker of Honeymoon In Vegas (also with Nicolas
Cage), and Striptease (the memorable vehicle for Demi Moore), It Could Happen To You benefits from such different gender perspectives
on the shifting levels of romance and the necessity of maintaining a sense of humour and proportion - during any marital break-up, amongst all the
other problematic trials (self-indulgence versus selflessness, in particular), and troublesome crises that are so common in today's highly pressurised
For an undeniably lightweight rom-com 'flick', this actually has a lot of worthwhile social commentary, with many fascinating things to say about
monetary ethics in morality and legal issues, honesty in relationships, prescience and conscience, and how - occasionally - just a simple courtesy
may change your life, or someone else's.