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It Could Happen to You (1994)

Written by: Jane Anderson, Directed by: Andrew Bergman

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, and Rosie Perez

"A promise is a promise," is what the big-hearted cop said to the sweet-natured waitress right after announcing that he was sharing his $4 million lottery ticket with her--in lieu of a tip--against the wishes of his greedy wife.


Charlie Lang (Nicolas Cage) is a modest and ethical police officer married to Muriel (Rosie Perez), a self-absorbed hairdresser with expensive ambitions. From the start, Muriel makes it clear that she wants much more than Charlie can provide and is frustrated that Charlie is not at all bothered by their economic status.


Prior to getting the biggest TIP of her life, Yvonne Biasi (Bridget Fonda) was a down-on-her-luck diner waitress, routinely mistreated by her tyrant of a boss. Earlier that day, she had been pronounced bankrupt due to her now absent husband's heavy spending, so when Charlie and his partner, Bo, come in and order "lobster thermidore" for lunch, Yvonne is in no mood for jokes. Charlie orders a burger instead, but before they can eat, they get called out on an emergency.  Charlie pulls his wallet to give Yvonne a tip, only to realize he doesn't have enough money. He tells Yvonne he will come back the next day with double the tip or half of what he wins in the lottery. Yvonne chooses the latter, thinking Charlie will never return.

Sure enough, their lottery numbers are drawn, while Muriel watches, and she screams. Charlie is happy, but somewhat subdued, especially when he tells Muriel about his promise to Yvonne.  Muriel screams again, but not out of joy.  She's extremely pissed at Charlie, but plays along for the time being, as she happily makes her way from one lavish purchase to another.


Yvonne considers leaving her job to pursue acting, but, instead, purchases the diner and immediately reserves a table "for people who [can't] afford a meal."  Charlie gets injured on the job, so he takes some time off.  He invites Yvonne to hang out with him, and they become chummy through fun and charity.  It's not long before Muriel sees Charlie's and Yvonne's WELL-PUBLICIZED, charitable antics, and asks for a divorce.


Around this same time, Yvonne's smarmy husband returns home to "borrow" some money, and Yvonne leaves him at her apartment.  By coincidence, Charlie and Yvonne wind up getting rooms at The Plaza and consummate their relationship that night. The following morning, they walk out together, and the press is there flashing their cameras.


With this new ammunition at the divorce negotiation, Muriel demands both Charlie’s and Yvonne's portions of the winnings.  Charlie is outraged, and Yvonne is despondent.  In court, Charle's lawyer fights the good fight, but the conniving Muriel wins all.  A tearful Yvonne dashes from the courthouse, and Charlie chases after her.


In the third act, Charlie finds Yvonne sitting alone in her darkened diner.  She blames herself for everything that happened, but Charlie assures her that the money doesn't mean anything to him; he only cares about her. They embrace in a bittersweet acceptance, and then answer a knock on the window of a man looking for food. In the end, love and charity triumph over money, as the city that was privy to everything happening in the lives of "the cop and the waitress" bans together to rescue them from rock-bottom.

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