A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"It Could Happen to You" tells the kind of story you vaguely remember reading about in the papers. Or maybe you didn't. But it's the kind of story you easily could have read about, and if you had read it, you'd probably think, "Jeez, why didn't this happen to me?" The movie's original title, which I like better than this one, was "Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip," and I think we can all imagine ourselves as the waitress in a situation like this, although the cop might be more of a stretch. The movie is about a cop named Charlie (Nicolas Cage), who orders coffee for himself and his partner in a greasy spoon, and has enough for the coffee but not for a tip. So he tells the waitress, named Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) that he'll give her half of winnings if the lottery ticket in his billfold is a winner. The next day, his number is drawn, and his share is $4 million, so of course Yvonne is due $2 million.
But it isn't that simple to Charlie's wife, Muriel (Rosie Perez). She's a screamer. She screams and goes manic when the winning number is read on the TV, and she screams twice as loud when Charlie finally tells him what he has done. "Do you love me?" she asks. "Then stiff her! Stiff her! And smell the flowers - for me!" She talks like that. And she hardly ever stops.
Charlie thinks he has a moral obligation to the waitress.
His partner (Wendell Pierce) is not so sure. If he won, he says, he'd buy the Knicks, and put himself in at forward. Charlie wavers, and plays a little game with his conscience by offering Yvonne a choice: Twice the tip amount, or half the lottery, if he won. She takes the lottery. He tells her he won. The way she gradually assimilates this news is one of the best things in the movie.