Sunday, December 16, 2007

It Could Happen to You (1994)

Directed by Andrew Bergman
Written by Jane Anderson
Starring Nicholas Cage, Bridget Fonda, Rosie Perez, Isaac Hayes. IMDB Entry.

I've several times mentioned films with forgettable names. In these cases, the name could have been justified by saying there wasn't anything better. Not so for It Could Happen to You. The name is certainly forgettable, especially since it had been used at least four times before. The original title, though, would have been just perfect in a Snakes on a Plane way (though less silly): Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip. A bit long, but which film would you more likely see?

Director Andrew Bergman made his mark as a writer, starting with Blazing Saddles and the original The In-Laws. He had also made a directing splash with The Freshman (in which Marlon Brando showed he had a sense of humor) and Honeymoon in Vegas (with the Flying Elvises).

It Could Happen to You was roughly based on a true story. Nicholas Cage plays Charlie Lang, a real nice guy cop. One day, when eating he realize he doesn't have the money to tip his waitress Yvonne Biasi (Bridget Fonda). So he makes a promise. Charlie has just bout a lottery ticket, and he promises to share his winnings with Yvonne.

As you can guess, the ticket wins.

Charlie is a man of his word, and wants to split the money. This doesn't sit well with his wife Muriel (Rosie Perez), who starts spending the cash as fast as she gets it. Yvonne, on the other hand, is shocked that Charlie shows up and realizes that men like him don’t com along all that often. The are complications due to marriages and ex-husbands, and a sweet ending.

Cage and Fonda make a nice couple. Cage is in his full-blown romantic mode, but it works fine. He makes Charlie so likeable that you want to relationship to succeed.

On the flip side, Rosie Perez is amazing as the venial Muriel. It's Von Stroheim's Greed played for laughs, and Perez plays the role to perfectly. She is another actress who never got the fame she deserved.

Isaac Hayes is also a delight as Angel, who might just be one. He narrates the story and may intervene (though it isn't really a fantasy).

Bergman's career hit a pothole after this. The film didn't do particularly well and for his next project, he did Striptease. While not as horrendous as Showgirls (which came out at about the same time), it was savaged (one of these days, someone will figure out how to translate Carl Hiaassen to the screen) and he didn't direct for a long time.

But if you're in the mood for some romance and comedy, this is a good place to start. Even with the horrible name change.

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