Blu-ray Review HTF Blu-ray Review: IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Michael Reuben, May 1, 2009.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    [​IMG]
    It Could Happen To You (Blu-ray)

    Studio: Columbia
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 101minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    HD Encoding: 1080p
    HD Codec: AVC
    Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Portugese Dolby TrueHD 5.1;
    Spanish DD. 51
    Subtitles: English; English SDH; Portugese; Spanish; French
    MSRP: $28.95
    Disc Format: 1 50GB
    Package: Keepcase
    Theatrical Release Date: July 29, 1994
    Blu-ray Release Date: May 5, 2009

    Introduction:

    It's hard to remember now, but before he crashed and burned with the Demi Moore bomb
    Striptease, writer/director Andrew Bergman had a successful career. He wrote and directed The
    Freshman
    , which, for my money, is Matthew Broderick's best film (and that includes Ferris
    Bueller
    ). Then he directed Broderick's future wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, with Nicolas Cage in
    the very funny Honeymoon in Vegas, which he also scripted. He wrote Fletch, Soapdish, the
    original In-Laws (sadly also the tepid remake) and co-wrote Blazing Saddles. And in 1994 he
    directed the unlikely pairing of Cage and Bridget Fonda in a film that was known for the longest
    time as "Cop Tips Waitress $2 Million" but was ultimately released as It Could Happen to You,
    from a script by Jane Anderson (whose most recent credits include Mad Men). Sony has now
    provided an exquisite, though barebones, presentation on Blu-ray.​

    The Feature:

    Charlie Lang (Cage) is a New York City street cop who patrols a picture-book city that is like the
    working stiff's version of Woody Allen's Manhattan. (The city was still a few years away from
    the slick transformation, in both reality and the popular imagination, that would coincide with
    Sex and the City). Charlie loves nothing better than making his rounds with his partner, Bo (a
    young Wendell Pierce, who would go on play "Bunk" Moreland on The Wire), helping people,
    preventing the occasional crime, and at night returning to his old neighborhood in Queens to play
    stickball with the local kids. (Queens has never looked better than in this movie.)

    It's a different story for Charlie's wife, Muriel (Rosie Perez). A hairdresser with aspirations, Muriel is
    the quintessence of upward mobility, and it drives her crazy that Charlie seems so content with their
    lot. Why can't he at least be on the take? she complains to a customer. At least that would show he
    had ambition!

    One day Muriel gives Charlie a specific set of numbers to bet on the New York Lotto grand
    prize, which Charlie gets slightly wrong (the mistake becomes a plot point). That same day,
    Charlie and Bo try a new coffee shop, where their waitress is Yvonne Biasi (Fonda), who is
    having the worst day of her life. Her estranged unemployed husband (Stanley Tucci, who appears
    not to have aged a day) has run up thousands of dollars on her credit cards, forcing her to declare
    bankruptcy. When Charlie discovers to his chagrin that he only has enough cash to pay the check,
    but not enough for a tip, Yvonne lets him know that it fits perfectly with the rest of her day.
    Charlie, who is always trying to make people feel better, impulsively offers to split half the
    winnings of his lottery ticket with her, and in any case he says he'll come back the next day to
    give her a tip.
    The ticket is a winner. After splitting with other winners who picked the same numbers, Charlie
    and Muriel collect $4 million. To Muriel's horror, Charlie keeps his word and gives half to
    Yvonne.

    As the saying goes, money changes everything, and the bulk of the film is about how new-found
    wealth changes the lives of these three people. The Langs' marriage, never entirely harmonious,
    grows increasingly strained, because Muriel can't forgive Charlie for blithely handing away half
    their winnings. Meanwhile, Muriel goes on a spending spree and Perez paints a portrait of the
    insatiable consumer that, from the vantage point of today, looks almost like a cautionary tale.
    Perez no doubt got the part because of the loud-mouth characters she'd created for Do the Right
    Thing!
    and White Man Can't Jump, but she'd already shown with her Oscar-nominated work in
    Fearless that she's a genuine actress. Her Muriel is an inspired grotesque, and her scenes after
    she strikes it rich are the film's comic highlights.

    Every fairy tale needs a magical presence, and in this one it's the late Isaac Hayes, narrating in
    his unmistakable baritone. He plays Angel, who doesn't reveal his true identity until the end of
    the film. If there's a deus ex machina in modern American life, Angel would be the one who
    embodies it.​



    Other familiar faces on the landscape are the reliably irritable J.E. Freeman as Yvonne's boss at
    the coffee shop; Seymour Cassel as a smooth-talking businessman that Muriel meets during a
    cruise for lottery winners; and recent Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins and the late, great Red
    Buttons as dueling attorneys in the courtroom battle that inevitably results when there's money at
    stake in America. Watch carefully and you'll also spot Vincent Pastore, later "Big Pussy" on The
    Sopranos
    , among the winners sharing the jackpot with Charlie and Muriel.

    As in all fairy tales, the good people live happily ever after, and the bad people get their just
    desserts. As in all New York fairy tales (at least until recently), there's a scene at the Plaza. But
    you'll have to watch the movie to see how the rest works out.​

    Video:

    With most of the 50GB disc's real estate devoted to video, Sony has delivered a superlative
    transfer without any artifacting, edge enhancement or DNR. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel's
    delicate images, soft but never muddy, are delivered with accuracy and with grain intact. These
    are not images whose colors are intended to "pop"; they're meant to suggest a kinder, gentler
    world as Charlie sees it and as Yvonne wants it to be. Deschanel is a master of imagery that's
    colorful without being overstated, and Sony did a wonderful job a few months ago with his
    photography on Fly Away Home. The image on this disc is every bit as good, but only if you
    appreciate subtlety. (If you're looking for "Wow!" factor, this isn't your kind of disc or movie.)​

    Audio:

    According to the credits, the film was released in SDDS. But even though it was released in the
    era of discrete digital sound, the film's mix plays more like something from the Dolby Surround
    era (which is not unusual for films from the mid-90s). The mix is front-oriented, with little
    noticeable use of the surrounds, even for city ambience. This is probably a good thing; too much
    off-screen city noise might detract from the fairy-tale atmosphere that the film works so hard to
    maintain.

    One clear indication of the soundtrack's discrete digital origin is the excellent frequency
    response, most obvious in the bass extention of the score by Carter Burwell and Joe Mulherin.
    The music is a light-hearted accompaniment to the story's enchantment, and the Dolby TrueHD
    track reproduces it with excellent fidelity and detail. The dialogue remains clear and is never
    overwhelmed.​

    Special Features:

    None to speak of. The disc includes trailers for Made of Honor and 13 Going on 30. It is also
    enabled for BD Live, but this feature was not active as of this review, presumably because it was
    written before street date. Given the unimpressive implentation of BD Live I've seen on most
    other Sony Blu-rays, I wouldn't expect anything beyond coming attractions in both theaters and
    on Blu-ray, plus the usual Blu-ray club promotion.​

    Final Thoughts:

    Looking backwards, it's striking how well-matched Fonda and Cage were as the film's two leads,
    even though their careers turned out to be heading in opposite directions. Cage would go on to
    win an Oscar for the following year's Leaving Las Vegas and then be catapulted to genuine
    movie stardom the year after that in The Rock. Fonda, despite her acting pedigree and her
    previous success with Single White Female and Point of No Return (the American remake of La
    Femme Nikita
    ), would appear in a series of offbeat films like Touch and potboilers like Kiss of the
    Dragon
    that would do little to showcase her talent or raise her profile. By 2002 she would retire
    from show business altogether to be a full time wife and mother. Knowing what happened to the
    principals just adds to the poignancy of It Can Happen to You, an urban tale told with such ease
    and good humor that it holds up beautifully.


    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic BDP-BD50 Blu-ray player (Dolby TrueHD decoded internally and output as analog)
    Samsung HL-T7288W DLP display (connected via HDMI)
    Lexicon MC-8 connected via 5.1 passthrough
    Sunfire Cinema Grand amplifier
    Monitor Audio floor-standing fronts and MA FX-2 rears
    Boston Accoustics VR-MC center
    Velodyne HGS-10 sub​


     
  2. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Thanks, Michael.

    You're making want to give this at least a rent, [​IMG] so I'm gonna go add it to my Blockbuster queue now and see where it takes me. [​IMG]

    _Man_
     
  3. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I just have to wonder how something like this is deemed more desirable to release than so many classics...
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Have you seen the film, Joe?
     
  5. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Yes, I rented it with the wife when it first came out on DVD (she's a fan of Cage). Can't recall a single thing about it today, which isn't a good sign.

    But whether I've seen it or not I don't feel it has anything to do with my point. I've seen VERTIGO and didn't really think much of it, finding it wildly overrated ... but I'd still recognize that something like that would deserve a Blu-ray treatment over this (even though both films are from different studios, but you get the idea).
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    It may or may not have anything to do with your point. My point was to elicit further indication of your criteria for determining which films are worthy of Blu-ray treatment. You've certainly clarified the matter.

    As should be obvious from my review, I'm pleased that Sony chose to issue this film, which, IMO, has grown in stature since its original release. I also think very highly of Vertigo.
     
  7. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    I have to agree with Joe. While I liked the film quite a bit back when I saw it when it was first released on VHS, I also haven't thought much of it since then. With all the titles still awaiting Blu-Ray (or heck DVD) release, it is a bit of a surprise to see this getting a release.

    I mean, I'm GLAD it is on BD, as I might look back on it, but it doesn't seem to be on many people's must see list.
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    For a long time, the same could have been said about It's a Wonderful Life. Now, I'm not claiming this film will ultimately achieve the same stature, just pointing out that it's not immediately obvious what's going to become a "classic". (Vertigo was also not well-regarded initially.)

    Frankly I don't care what other film you, Joe or anyone else would have preferred to have Sony release on Blu-ray. This is the one they released, and I'm glad they did.
     
  9. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    I have to admit that this film is one that has eluded me. I'm something of a sucker for 'feel good' films so I may have to take a chance on this one, despite the seemingly predictable nature of the enterprise. (Sometimes its not the what, but the how when it comes to plot development.)

    Thanks for the review, Michael.

    - Walter.
     
  10. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I watched this when it first came out and thought it was a cute film. I think I hated Perez's character so much that it actually took away from me liking the film more if that makes sense.

    Re: Side Story

    I certainly understand why this thing is getting released onto Blu. It seems Cage has become a laughing stock in some circles but it seems his popularity with women is still very, very high. I'm shocked to hear women talk about their "Hollywood crushes" and how many of them bring up Cage for being that "guy next door" type. No matter where I've worked or who I've talked to, it seems they all love Cage no matter how bad or great the movie is. With that in mind, this will certainly find its way into homes.
     
  11. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    I didn't mean to imply anything negative about the review. I'm glad it was reviewed and it sounds like it is worth seeing again.

    I was just backing up what Joe said about it being a rather obscure title for a BD release.
     
  12. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Personally I'm hoping that more obscure titles get BD releases.
     
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    That's not what he said. He said this film doesn't "deserve" a Blu-ray release, as compared to various unreleased "classics".

    Word of advice: Understand what someone is saying before you sign onto it. This is especially important when the person in question has himself characterized the opinion as a "thread crap" (which it was). The time to have raised such issues was when the disc was announced, not when someone has made a good-faith effort to review it.

    But anyway, why should you care? According to your blog, you don't even have Blu-ray capability.
     
  14. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    You and me both, actually! [​IMG]
    Bring on THE DEEP!
     
  15. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Michael, once again, I apologize if you thought I took away anything from your review. That was not my intention. You are right it would have been better discussed in an announcement thread, but I also didn't see that thread.

    The way I still read what Joe said is just questioning why this is being released ahead of something like, for another Sony title, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. I'm happy it is being released, agree with what you wrote about Bergman, but am surprised this is being released.

    And as for my own Blu-Ray capabilities, I've already starting buying discs so should be going Blu in the next couple weeks.

    Again Michael, I apologize. I wasn't trying to start anything.
     
  16. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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