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It Could Happen to You (1994)

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A police officer promises to share his lottery ticket with a waitress in lieu of a tip.






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Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlie Lang
Yvonne Biasi
Muriel Lang
Bo Williams
Jack Gross
Eddie Biasi
Sal Bontempo
Walter Zakuto
C. Vernon Hale
Robert Dorfman ...
Beatrice Winde ...
Ginny Yang ...
Mrs. Sun


Charlie and Muriel Lang have led simple lives - for most of their existance. That's until they win $4 million on the lottery! There is a problem, however. Prior to winning the lottery, Charlie had eaten at a cafe and hadn't been able to tip the waitress. He had promised her, jokingly, that if he won the lottery he'd give her half of it. This is why his wife, Muriel decides to leave him. She doesn't want the waitress to get a cent of their money. Infact she wants all $4 million for herself! Written by Michael Feller <reb@magna.com.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's not about money. It's about life. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and a scene of cop action | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

29 July 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip!  »

Box Office


$37,800,323 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie is based on the true story of Phyllis Penzo and Officer Robert Cunningham. For twenty-four years, Penzo served as a waitress at Sal's Pizzeria in Yonkers, New York. Cunningham, a thirty-year veteran of the police force in nearby Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., was a regular customer at the restaurant, well-liked by the staff there. (His favorite dish was linguine with clams.) One day in March, 1984, Cunningham asked Penzo for help picking his weekly lottery numbers. Penzo suggested three numbers, and Cunningham came up with three more numbers on his own. Cunningham jokingly promised that if he won, he would split the winnings with Penzo as a tip. The next day, to Penzo's surprise, Cunningham and his wife came to the diner with the winning lottery ticket in hand. Cunningham's ticket had won $6 million, which he split with Penzo, giving her $3 million. In real life, however (as stated in a disclaimer at the end of the movie), Cunningham and Penzo were both happily married to other people for many years. See more »


When the movie begins, the coffee shop is called "Ideal". After she buys it, Yvonne changes the name to "Yvonne's". When Charlie comes to the shop to find Yvonne (the first time that they are together after the court verdict), the name of the shop is "Ideal" again. But if you look closely, the Yvonne's sign is still up, just darkened. Obviously with the money awarded to Muriel, Yvonne would had sold the coffee shop back to her original boss, hence it is in the middle of re-doing the sign. See more »


Yvonne Biasi: Because of me, you have nothing.
Charlie Lang: Because of you, I have you.
See more »


Referenced in The Critic: Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice (1995) See more »


Swingdown, Swingtown
Written and Performed by Wynton Marsalis
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User Reviews

An enjoyable piece of escapism
30 June 2005 | by (Tessenderlo, Belgium) – See all my reviews

The question that probably everybody once asked to himself / herself and many others is: what would you do if you won the lottery? Well, I know what I would do with it. I wouldn't change much to my lifestyle, but for those who don't know what to expect, this movie gives a good idea of how gaining a lot of money in a short period of time can influence your entire life... But I don't watch movies to know what to do with my life and neither should other people. Movies are entertainment and this one certainly offers plenty of that.

When Charlie Lang, a New York cop with a heart of gold, can't give a tip to Yvonne, a waitress at a small diner, he promises her that he will come back the next day to give her the double of her money or, in case he wins anything, half of his share of the state lottery. Of course she doesn't believe him, but when he comes back the next day and offers her the chance to chose between the two options, she goes for the lottery option. Only than he tells her that he has won 4 million dollars and that she will get half of that. But there is only one problem: his wife Muriel. She gets greedy, certainly doesn't want to share her money with a waitress she doesn't know, but doesn't even want to share it with her own husband. As Charlie and Muriel grow apart, Charlie and Yvonne grow together and it doesn't take long before Muriel files for divorce, grabs all the money and leaves with a rich man by her side...

There are plenty of romantic comedies nowadays and it is very hard to find a really good one. Well, this might be one of the few. I really liked it and there are many reasons for that. One certainly is that, despite the fact that we live in a world full of greed and egoism, some writers still try to give us hope by showing that not everything in the world is bad. OK, that may sound incredibly naive, but I really am not that stupid as you might think. I'm a business man in heart and soul, but sometimes I can really enjoy this type of positive escapism.

The fact that Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda play an important role in this movie also helps of course. And it has to be said, they really played their roles well and very convincingly. But they weren't the only ones, because the same can be said about Rosie Perez. She's incredibly good as the money-hungry bitch and despite what many people might think, she doesn't exaggerate. I've known people to change into someone just like her character once they had a bit of money in their hands... Overall this is a nice, perhaps a bit naive movie with some good acting and an interesting story. I really liked what I saw and find this one of the better romantic comedies I've ever seen. I give it a score of at least 7.5/10, although I think that even an 8/10 isn't exaggerated.

30 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
He didn't have to give her $2m strangerfromuk
who wouldnt be mad at their husband LilyViolet
What would do you if you won $4 million? cmyklefty
little annoyance imagine85
What are they throwing at the end? lexie3787
Real life: Waitress gets Porsche as a tip! emenel
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