Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) is an honest but poor cop who becomes an instant celebrity when he wins the lottery, and gives half of it to Yvonne (Bridget Fonda), a waitress to whom he had promised a share of the fortune should his number come up that day. This beneficent act is not appreciated by Lang's avaricious wife, Muriel (Rosie Perez), who becomes increasingly estranged from her husband as her new-found riches lead her to ever dizzier social heights. Meanwhile, the more selfless Charlie and Yvonne find themselves being drawn closer and closer together.
Inspired by an actual incident, this unassuming, wonderfully good-natured romantic comedy tells the story of a New York City street cop named Charlie (Nicolas Cage) who makes a promise to a coffee-shop waitress named Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) that will change both their lives. One day after coffee, Charlie is embarrassed to discover he doesn't have money for a tip, so he tells Yvonne that he'll share half of his winnings if the lottery ticket he's holding comes up a winner. Sure enough, he wins the jackpot--a whopping US$4 million payoff--and Charlie's wife, Muriel (Rosie Perez), goes ballistic when he tells her about his deal with Yvonne. From this point, It Could Happen to You follows Charlie's dilemma as he is forced to decide the proper course of action, and director Andrew Bergman smoothly incorporates a gentle love story into this amusing crisis of conscience. Fonda and Cage have an easygoing chemistry that adds a pleasant touch to the movie's fairy-tale plot, and It Could Happen to You's kindhearted sentiment is never so thick that it becomes sticky-sweet or artificial. As feel-good comedies go, this one's a class act. --Jeff Shannon