If you’ve seen, or subsequently see, any of the movies I’ve featured on WHYS, or if you’ve got a suggestion for a title I should review here in future then please use the comments or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: This WHYS…? is part of the Bring Back Bridget Fonda series, currently running at 24FPS and E-Film Blog.
IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU
DIR: Andrew Bergman
What’s It All About?
Shockingly, the film is (loosely) based on a true story. New York cop Charlie (Nicolas Cage) is short the change for a tip one day, so instead he promises waitress Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) half of his win should his numbers come up in the lottery. Charlie’s numbers do come up, and he and his wife (Rosie Perez) win $4 million, much to his wife’s consternation, Charlie honours his promise. Over time, Charlie and Yvonne begin seeing more of each other, and getting close.
Why Haven’t You Seen It?
It always intrigues me how the afterlife of movies ends up working. It Could Happen to You was a modest success on its 1994 release, no blockbuster, but relatively well received and it made some money. It’s the kind of film you might have suspected would take off on video, but it seems to have slowly sunk into relative anonymity, which is a shame.
Why Should You See It?
I know it’s a cliché, and rather trite, but they really don’t make ’em like this anymore, and they haven’t for years. If the true story had happened in 1940, Frank Capra might well have cast James Stewart and Jean Arthur as Charlie and Yvonne, but that’s not how things worked out and instead we get this; an extremely amiable throwback from Andrew Bergman (whose schizophrenic directorial career takes in the abysmal Striptease and odd Godfather spoof The Freshman).
Nicolas Cage is a hit and miss actor; he’s often so very odd that he unbalances movies. Happily Bergman has him rein in his eccentricities and play a very nice, very decent, very straightforward guy who is wept up both by events and by a woman. It’s a very classical take on the all American nice guy, and Cage plays it beautifully. Bridget Fonda (who really should have been in more romantic comedies) is also excellent, she begins the film as a woman who hasn’t ended up where she wants to be and there is both a toughness and a fragility about her. The real joy of the film is seeing Cage and Fonda play off one another, in scenes like the one where they are both left behind by a lottery winners cruise, and the one in which Charlie rents out Yankee stadium for an afternoon, we get to see and feel a growing connection between the characters.
So many romantic comedies seem to have characters who hate each other, then suddenly are together for no apparent reason, that’s not the case here, It Could Happen to You takes care, and time, to build something between the characters and that, along with the great chemistry between Cage and Fonda, sells the relationship, despite the rather hokey and idealised storyline.
In support, Rosie Perez is the one thing in the film that really doesn’t work. I know she’s supposed to be shrill and annoying (nice typecasting there) as Charlie’s appalling wife, but Perez is terrible; so hammy that she’s laughably unbelievable, even for a movie that is already rather heightened. She’s also such an awful character that you just don’t believe in the relationship between her and Cage. Happily Stanley Tuccci, in an early role as Yvonne’s estranged, and now suddenly returned, husband turns in a much better performance, sliming his way though a few scenes quite agreeably.
It Could Happen to You is a nice film. It’s a film my Mum and Stepdad would like. Usually, I’m more interested in more challenging fare, but this is the kind of film that gives genre a good name. Okay so it’s familiar, but so what? It’s filled with charming characters, strong performances, a few laughs, an enjoyable romance. It’s also nice to see, given the recent crop, a rom-com that doesn’t rely on humiliating its characters for laughs, and that is about people who actually deserve to be happy. This film may not change your life, but it’s an entertaining 100 odd minutes, and leaves you with a warm glow that you don’t get from movies all that often these days.
How Can You See It?
Both UK and US DVDs are available. They are vanilla editions, but both are in the original aspect ratio.
Next Week: Continuing the Bring Back Bridget Fonda series that me and MultiMediaMouth writer Mike Ewins are running on our blogs, Sam Raimi’s best film; A SIMPLE PLAN.