Love and the lottery—a winning recipe for romance—is the backdrop of It Could Happen to You, the 1994 film starring Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda and Rosie Perez. My Contests and Sweepstakes site readers will enjoy the inspirational lottery story line, but so will anyone who likes sweet romantic comedies.
Bridget Fonda's character, waitress Yvonne Biasi, is having the worst day of her life. Her no-good husband has run off and maxed out her credit cards. She shows up for her work shift at a diner on the same day she goes bankrupt where she starts to serve New York police officer Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) and his partner Bo Williams (Wendell Pierce). But they're just starting to get to their coffee when they're called back to the job. When officer Lang realizes he doesn't have enough cash to give her a tip, he shows Yvonne the lottery ticket in his wallet. He tells her he'll be back tomorrow and she can choose between a tip or half the lottery money if he has a winning ticket.
He's a winner, but there's a glitch. The ticket actually belongs to he and his wife Muriel (Rosie Perez). Muriel is a piece of work. She's constantly nagging Charlie about money. She even whines to one of her salon clients that she'd have more respect for Charlie if he was a cop on the take because "at least he'd have ambition." Muriel is none too happy to be sharing half her lottery winnings with a waitress. But to Charlie, a promise is a promise and he shares his winnings with Yvonne.
New York falls in love with them both. The story follows the ending of Yvonne's and Charlie's marriages, Muriel's gold digging and the fate of the lottery winnings. It's narrated by Isaac Hayes who plays a pivotal role in the lovers' happy ending.
The film is loosely based on a true story. Officer Robert Cunningham and waitress Phyllis Penzo were actually good friends who joked one day about sharing a lottery ticket to cover her tip. They each picked half of the numbers and won a $6 million lotto prize in New York apparently with no drama from their respective spouses. That, they say, is pure Hollywood fiction.
I give this flick 3 out of 5 stars. Its a throwback to early Hollywood romances. It's cute, the comedy is fun and the chemistry between Cage and Fonda definitely works but it's a bit predictable. Still, if you're in the mood for a lighthearted, PG romance, you may enjoy It Could Happen to You.
Mark, Lois Alter. Winning Personalities. Entertainment Weekly, July 29, 1994,
I rented this movie from Netflix but it's also available at Amazon at the link below:
It Could Happen To You