Presented in fairy tale form – down to its awkward, ‘once upon a time’ narrated introduction – cultivates and actually merits the designation ‘Capra-esque’.
The simple premise (very loosely inspired by a true story) has affable New York cop Charlie (Nicolas Cage) finding himself short of cash and promising hard-luck, recently bankrupted waitress Yvonne (Bridget Fonda) that he’ll split anything he wins from the lottery with her in lieu of a tip. The ticket turns out to be a $4 million winner and, much to the chagrin of his avaricious wife, Muriel (Rosie Perez), Charlie decides to honor his pledge.
As Muriel proceeds to ostentatiously spend the loot, the bond between Charlie and Yvonne grows, with the two sharing good deeds that range from doling out free subway tokens to entertaining neighborhood kids.
What really make the film are Bergman’s general restraint despite the nature of the material, and the strong central performances. Cage and Fonda are extremely natural as the good-hearted lug and goodbye girl, while the squawking, raging Perez only needs to be fitted for a broomstick. Wendell Pierce also proves particularly likable as Charlie’s partner, a cop with an affinity for the Knicks and carbohydrates.