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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU



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#1 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted May 01 2009 - 06:43 AM

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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
 

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#2 of 16 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 01 2009 - 01:25 PM

Thanks, Michael.

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

_Man_
Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#3 of 16 Joe Karlosi

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Posted May 01 2009 - 11:22 PM

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

#4 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted May 02 2009 - 01:37 AM

Have you seen the film, Joe?
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#5 of 16 Joe Karlosi

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Posted May 03 2009 - 01:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
Have you seen the film, Joe?

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 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted May 03 2009 - 05:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
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).
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.
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#7 of 16 Jon Martin

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Posted May 03 2009 - 11:50 AM

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 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted May 03 2009 - 12:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Martin
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.
The review was written for people interested in the Blu-ray. Obviously that doesn't include you or Joe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Martin
but it doesn't seem to be on many people's must see list.
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.
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#9 of 16 Walter Kittel

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Posted May 03 2009 - 12:37 PM

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.
Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#10 of 16 Michael Elliott

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Posted May 03 2009 - 12:50 PM

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 of 16 Jon Martin

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Posted May 04 2009 - 03:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
The review was written for people interested in the Blu-ray. Obviously that doesn't include you or Joe.

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 of 16 Lew Crippen

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Posted May 04 2009 - 03:53 AM

Personally I'm hoping that more obscure titles get BD releases.
¡Time is not my master!

#13 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted May 04 2009 - 08:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Martin
I was just backing up what Joe said about it being a rather obscure title for a BD release.
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.
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#14 of 16 Joe Karlosi

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Posted May 04 2009 - 10:05 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
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.

Since you're trying your best to keep things in proper perspective, Michael, please also be aware that I did not mean in any way to undermine your review. So please don't take it that way. It's also very cool that you like the movie.

Also, it wasn't until my second post that I used the word "deserve". But if you consider it all in full context ("doesn't deserve as opposed to something like VERTIGO"), then Jon's interpretation of what I truly meant is actually closer. Sometimes meanings on message boards don't come out right, but yes - what I'm saying is, in my opinion I think there are far more important titles that should make it to Blu-ray first.

I guess we could say virtually ANY film deserves a BD release at some point ... my question is "which are priorities?" Hey, I am a big fan of THE OMEGA MAN and I personally think it's neat that it came out in high def before THE WIZARD OF OZ ... but objectively speaking, which one would I say had more business being released first? Certainly WIZARD OF OZ. (At least with THE OMEGA MAN's release, Warner had some method to it -- it was to cash in on the new Will Smith I AM LEGEND).

Now that I think of it, you're right that it would have been more suitable airing my views in an "announcement" thread, but I don't remember seeing the thread where the movie was "announced"... what actually happened was, I just saw this thread on the Blu-ray movie and my first gut instinct was to ask "why this one?".

But looking on the bright side, at least the thread has gotten some feedback.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lew Crippen
Personally I'm hoping that more obscure titles get BD releases.


You and me both, actually! Posted Image
Bring on THE DEEP!

#15 of 16 Jon Martin

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Posted May 04 2009 - 10:46 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
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.

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 of 16 Michael Reuben

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Posted May 04 2009 - 01:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
Bring on THE DEEP!
Take it away!
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