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Friday, 14 October 2016

Retro Review: It Could Happen To You (1994)

It Could Happen To You
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, Rosie Perez, Isaac Hayes, Stanley Tucci
Genre: Romantic Comedy Drama 
Studio: Tristar Pictures
Worldwide Lifetime Gross: over $37,000,000

Plot: Charlie Lang is a simple, kindhearted New York cop. When he realises he has no money to tip the waitress Yvonne Biasi, Lang offers her half the winnings of his lottery ticket. Amazingly, the ticket happens to be a winner, in the sum of $4 million. True to his word, Lang proceeds to share the prize money with Biasi, which infuriates his greedy wife, Muriel. Not content with the arrangement, Muriel begins scheming to take all of his money 

'Feel-Good Dramedy On ''Money Can't Buy You Love'''

Winning the lottery can change people's lives.... some for the good, some not for the greater and for Charlie Lang, he experiences a bit of both in this romantic dramedy offering. 

Based on a true story, although it is dubbed a rom-com, and I sort of label it as a romantic dramedy as it has dramatic and happy moments, It Could Happen To You is really a romantic drama with a touch of comedy. It's heavy laden on the drama and light on the comedy, and though the comedy aspect isn't funny in a way like say Honeymoon in Vegas and Overboard, the humour that is in this movie is still effective in terms of amusement, rather than say general laughter to garner 'hahaha' laughs. This rags-to-riches tale has been done before in Romantic comedies; with the former, Pretty Woman, as well as 1987's Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, but this particular version of the tale has a different spin to it. Neither the male protagonist and female love interest in It Could Happen To You are wealthy by default, and nor do they come from affluent backgrounds. They are just both working- class people with day jobs. The riches part being local New York cop Charlie, who along with his wife Muriel, become overnight nationwide sensations after winning the lottery, and the rags part, being that of Yvonne the waitress who serves coffee to her customers, who becomes Charlie's chosen one to split the winnings with. From there onwards, they life changes forever..... the question is, is it for the better? The answer is, not really. 

Both Bridget Fonda and Nicolas Cage are evenly poised and compliment each other really well. Cage as Charlie creates a sense of realism, but also a likability to his character, who comes as across as being very humble, kind and who though isn't too overwhelmed by the wealth, he is not one wrapped up in the materialistic side of things. I was pleasantly surprised by Cage's performance and thus showing, he can carry himself off as the leading man in a romantic -type of movie. His role is almost completely unlike the many other parts he has played before and after this movie. Whereas Fonda provides a good like-for-like counter foil, but who like Charlie, is a character who has good intentions. Her performance as Yvonne is as good as Cage's Charlie and their onscreen chemistry is great to see: not sickly sweet. She is also down-to-earth, humble and kind. Later on, as they see more and more of each other on a daily basis, Charlie and Yvonne's feelings for each other start to unravel. 

Likewise, the same cannot be said for Muriel, who is an obnoxious character; so much so she could be described as a snotty-nosed, gold-digger and Perez does a fine job, making her out to be so dislikable and despicable at the same time. Even if her performance does mirror the same one in White Men Can't Jump. Muriel is such an ungrateful witch: Charlie is being a good and noble sport, but all Muriel cares about is ''me, me, me''. She thinks of nothing and nobody else but herself, and in spending all that money. 

It's one of those rom-com dramas that will appeal to both sets of men and women: it's not too sickly sweet, it's amusing in parts, inspiring in parts as well with terrific performances, and a good-yet important message about 'money doesn't buy you happiness'. I think having this subtext is why I like these types of romantic comedies, but also it helps to have likeable and appealing characters, as well as unappealing ones in Muriel to help forward the story, along with exceedingly good performances by the actors to go with the movie. The writer and the director don't resort to schmaltz and sickly sweetness, thank goodness, and the overall film just has a positive, feel-good vibe to it. 

The movie performed really well at the box office & was also met with mixed reactions. It still gets mixed reactions today; and yet the movie is more than just about two people coming together and falling in love, regardless of the money and wealth that comes with it. Through the goodness of Charlie and Yvonne's hearts, it's about sharing that happiness they have for each other and one another with other people, by giving something back to the community. 

Final Verdict:

It Could Happen To You is one of those romantic comedy/dramedy efforts that I find more tolerable and bearable than so many of the A-list popular Hollywood rom-coms of the 1990s. I like the idea of two strangers who come together and fall in love, irrespective of the money and wealth. Great performances from the main three of Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda and Rosie Perez, a good message to take from the film, the lighter moments worked well and that this is a nice take on the rom-com formula. 

I know that a lot of people who dislike this film will be ones who read into it too much, but for the rest of us who are in the mood for a good romantic comedy, especially one that isn't overly mushy and yet also bearable at the same time, It Could Happen To You, despite the terrible sounding title, is a worthy addition alongside other romantic comedy and dramedy heavyweights.  



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