It Could Happen to You (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
April 30, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“An enjoyable romantic comedy made even better by the performances of Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda and Rosie Perez. This 1994 film receives a beautiful transfer on 1080p High Definition and probably the best we will ever see of this film. ‘It Could Happen to You’ is rather enjoyable, fun and heartwarming!”
TITLE: It Could Happen to You
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: Screen Format(s): Anamorphic Language(s): English 5.1, French (Parisian) 5.1, Spanish (Latin Am) 5.1, Portuguese (Brazil) 5.1 Subtitles(s): English (US), French (Parisian), Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am) Aspect Ratio: 1.85
COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2009
Directed by Andrew Bergman
Screenplay by Jane Anderson
Executive Produced by Gary Adelson, Craig Baumgarten, Joseph Hartwick
Produced by Mike Lobell
Music by Carter Burwell, Joe Mulherin
Director of Photography: Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Barry Malkin
Casting by John S. Lyons
Production Design by Bill Groom
Art Direction by Dennis Bradford
Set Decoration by George DeTitta Jr.
Costume Design by Julie Weiss
Nicolas Cage as Charlie Lang
Bridget Fonda as Yvonne Biasi
Rosie Perez as Muriel Lang
Wendell Pierce as Bo Williams
Isaac Hayes as Angel Dupree
Victor Rojas as Jesu
Seymoure Cassel as Jack Gross
Stanley Tucci as Eddie Biasi
Red Buttons as Walter Zakuto
“It Could Happen to You” was the surprise romantic comedy of the Summer of 1994 directed by Andrew Bergman (screenwriter for “The Freshman”, “Fletch”, “Striptease” and director of “Honeymoon in Vegas”) and a screenplay by Jane Anderson (who has written for television series such as “The Facts of Life”, “The Wonder Years” and most recently an episode of “Mad Men”).
The film kicks off with narration by Angel Dupree (Isaac Hayes) who introduces the viewers to Nicolas Cage as NYPD officer Charlie Lang. A generous and kind man who cares about people who serves his duty during the day but when he comes home, hears from his wife Muriel (Rosie Perez), who works at a hair salon, who constantly complains about how they have no money. He brings up kids but she says they have no money. She reminds him that he needs to pick up a lottery ticket.
Bridget Fonda plays the character of Yvonne Biasi. A waitress who is having to face $15,000 of debt because of her lying husband that she hasn’t yet divorced because filing for divorce is expensive and she doesn’t have the money. She is forced into bankruptcy as an option.
One day while Officer Lang and his partner Bo (Wendell Pierce), he quickly buys a lottery ticket and with Bo very hungry, they stop into a diner which Yvonne works at. Yvonne is not having a great day because of the bankruptcy but she manages to put on a happy face for the customers at the diner. Charlie tries to joke with her but she’s not really into it. The two officers get a police call on their radio and have to quickly leave. The problem is that he doesn’t have enough money for a tip and she tells him not to worry about it. But he promises her that if he wins the lottery with that ticket, he will give her half. Barely listening, Yvonne says OK.
The night of the announcement of the winning numbers of the lottery, the newscaster talks about how the lottery is now up to $64 million dollars. Muriel lashes at Charlie for picking the wrong numbers. She tells him that their anniversary is on the 27th and he picked a 26. They argue but sure enough, their numbers are called.
The couple have to split with 16 other winners but they are guaranteed $4 million. But Charlie remembers the promise he made to waitress Yvonne and tells Muriel. Muriel is very upset and can’t believe Charlie did this and tries to tell him to not do it and think of their marriage.
As Charlie visits Yvonne at the diner, he starts to see how she’s a caring person to the people at the diner but also learns of her financial woes. She gives her a choice, the tip or half of the winnings of the lottery as promised. Yvonne thinks he’s joking but she picks the lottery winnings and Charlie gives her the great news. Yvonne is ecstatic that she’s now a millionaire.
The following day as the Lang’s go to receive their check along with Yvonne, Muriel is still upset but Charlie tells her that she would be seen as a woman with a heart of gold and possibly may get endorsements. She smiles and gives the OK. Of course, the media, when they find out what Charlie did, they become the media focus.
But for Charlie, life is still the same…he wants to keep his job in the NYPD. While at a crime scene apprehending two thieves, he is shot but manages to catch both of thieves. He wins an award from his local precinct but he will be out of commission until he heals. In good faith and in respect as an officer, Charlie donates $10,000 to a fund for widows of police officers.
Muriel is not too happy that he’s giving away money and so she goes on a spending spree at the most expensive shops in NYC (he puts money into a homeless man’s cup, she takes it out), she then has their whole home redecorated. It appears that Muriel is more into the money than their marriage.
As for Yvonne, she still lives a simple life but she has used the money to buy the diner where she worked at but to her chagrin, her husband finally reappears and wants $50,000 from her and tells her if she gives him money, he’ll disappear.
Charlie and Muriel are invited to a millionaire party for the lottery winners on a ship and Charlie feels that he’s out of his element. Muriel becomes entranced by Jack Gross (Seymour Cassel) who talks about how to invest their money and how to make more. While Charlie takes a breather, he sees Yvonne from a distance and goes to see her. But when the two start talking, the ship departs.
But Charlie doesn’t mind and asks if Yvonne would like to go out to dinner with him. Yvonne tells him again how no person would do what he did but Charlie insists that a promise is a promise. As they get to know each other, you realize the two have chemistry but doesn’t go far because Charlie is married as is Yvonne despite being separated.
Charlie does ask if she would like to hang out with him and Yvonne is excited and says yes.
The two go out and start rollerblading but then Charlie wants to do something special and thus he and Yvonne use part of their money to give New Yorkers a free gift at the subway, the two then take the children around Charlie’s neighborhood to play baseball at Yankee Stadium and giving them Yankees merchandise and just having fun and putting their money to positive use. We see Angel (the narrator) at every place that the two are doing good deeds and we also see the media giving positive coverage to both Charlie and Yvonne.
This upsets Muriel who is angry that her husband is giving away their money and jealous that he is spending time with Yvonne. Charlie then tries to argue that the two have not been the same in the last five years and She tells Charlie that she wants a divorce. She kicks Charlie out of their home while Yvonne moves out because her husband has moved in. The two unknowingly decide to stay at the ritzy Plaza where they encounter each other.
While at the Plaza, both Charlie and Yvonne realize that they have feelings for each other and become romantic. But the media is there to snap shots of the two together and this leads to ramifications.
Muriel hires a powerful attorney and she wants all the lottery winnings from both Charlie and Yvonne insisting that it was her that picked the numbers and that she gave no permission to Charlie in giving Yvonne half the winnings. Muriel complains that Charlie is abusive and that she believes she gave the money to Yvonne because the two were having an affair. Charlie is shocked that Muriel is lying but realized that all she cared about is the money and is willing to give up his half of the money. But Charlie is shocked when Muriel wants the money given to Yvonne. He can’t believe that she would lie about him to get back at Yvonne.
This leads to a highly covered divorce case in the media where Charlie and Yvonne’s characters are being brought down by Muriel and her lawyers. How will this high-profile divorce case play out?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
One thing that people may see is the Blu-ray disc cover with photos that looks quite grainy and aged. Granted it was an artistic decision to use a water color style of filter to give a painted look but by no means should anyone judge the cover for the picture and audio quality of this High Definition transfer of “It Could Happen to You”.
The film is presented in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of 1:85:1. Although, the film does show a slight hint of age and the High Definition transfer does bring out the grain, you do get a bright and colorful look of New York City and overall, picture quality is well-done for a film that is 15-years-old compared to the original DVD. Like many films that came out in the 90’s, many on Blu-ray tend to have some softness or dullness and “It Could Happen to You” joins that group.
To tell you the truth, “It Could Happen to You” is not a stellar transfer but its a very good transfer compared to the DVD.
The audio quality is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 in English, French and Portuguese and in Spanish 5.1. The film is primarily a dialogue driven film. Definitely more front channel speaker usage and rarely a need for the rear speakers or subwoofer in this film. Dialogue is heard clearly and I think that once in awhile, you do hear the sounds of New York and the ambiance but overall, audio quality is very good for a dialogue-driven film.
Music also plays a big part in giving us that New York feel but also that romantic sense with Frank Sinatra’s “Young at Heart” playing during a scene at the old Yankee Stadium and of course beautiful classics such as Billie Holiday’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, “Now It Can Be Told” and “Always” by Tony Bennett and more.
Subtitles featured are in English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish and French.
Unfortunately, there are no special features included. The Blu-ray disc for “It Could Happen to You” is BD LIVE enabled.
“It Could Happen to You” is a romantic comedy that was in theaters in July 1994. The screenplay fits the “fairytale” or “Happy Ever After” storylines that were popping up in the early 90’s courtesy of films such as “Pretty Woman” and “Sleepless in Seattle”.
The film was an enjoyable romantic comedy that definitely had that Frank Capra style of being a “happily ever after” storyline.
Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda definitely were enjoyable to watch, while Rosie Perez’s character really goes out of its way to make you really despise her. With “Pretty Woman” about rags-to-riches, “It Could Happen to You” goes a different way of money changing things but its all about how one responds to it. Charlie and Yvonne continue to want to live their simple lives, he as a cop and she as a waitress. Both have extremely kind and caring hearts while Muriel wants the best in life…the expensive clothes, plastic surgery and whatever fame it could bring her. A selfish attitude that helps drive the final wedge into her marriage with Charlie.
With Andrew Bergman in the helm as director, some may have wondered if the film would have been dark since his previous film such as “The Freshman” and “Honeymoon in Vegas” were anywhere near happy as this film but overall, Bergman did a good job capturing that New York magic and the emotions of the characters. While Jane Anderson did a good job in making sure the pacing was just right and giving us that “happily ever after”, “feel good” type of film. In other words, the Bergman, Anderson and the entire film play it safe and never gets complicated.
Of course, the storyline of a police officer willing to share half his multi-million dollar winnings with a waitress may seem farfetched but according to snopes.com, a similar story really did happen for real in 1984 with NYPD officer Robert Cunningham and Sal’s Pizzeria waitress Phyllis Penzo.
It’s the performances by all three talents that make this film so magical, believable and most of all enjoyable. And I like how the film would showcase the New York atmosphere from the city skyline to Yankee stadium.
Overall, “It Could Happen to You” is an enjoyable romantic comedy that even in 15-years-later, is given new life through it’s new, beautiful Blu-ray transfer. This is probably the best we will ever see this film get.
If there was only one negative that I found with this release is the lack of any trailer, featurette, commentary or anything that would be considered a special feature. You do get trailers for upcoming films but that’s about it.
All in all, “It Could Happen to You” is an enjoyable romantic comedy worth checking out!
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