Director: Andrew Bergman
The world can really suck. Yet, there is still hope. That’s the message of this wonderful, wonderful movie. The two leads are two incredibly nice people, caught in the real world. If everyone was like Charlie and Yvonne, life would be a fairy tale. Unfortunately, they’re surrounded by people who don’t believe in being nice. In NYC, there is some good, simple people, no doubt, but there’s also a load of assholes. First you got the lawyers, the worst scum of the universe. Then there’s the media, not far behind. And what about those greedy, exploitative lifemates. Beause it’s practically a fact: nice people always get used.
Take good ole Charlie. He never did anything mean or selfish. He believes in truth and loyalty. And he’s a cop! But a good cop, who ain’t even brutal when it’s unnecessary. Unfortunately, he’s married to the worst goddamn bitch in America, Muriel. Why? Cause he’s nice, dammit. That means that it took an extremely long time for him to get together with a girl, and when it finally happened, he got so gaga over her that he married her, even though she’s never done anything good for him. Hey, don’t take my word, John Hughes once said that, through Ferris Bueller’s mouth. Anyway, the story really starts when the couple wins 4 million buckaroos at the lottery. There’s one little problem. Mr. Nice Guy promised a waitress he couldn’t tip that he’d give her half of whatever he would win with the ticket. Uh oh. The event will show him what a worthless piece of slime his wife is, and that true love might exist. Yvonne the waitress is almost as him, and she also had her load of badluck. She’s married to a crook who steals her money and makes her unhappy. But hey, who knows, maybe two nice people together have a chance against a world without good values…
This movie is actually based on a real case. Whoa. That almost gives me hope in life. What a story! No wonder it was turned into a film. The screenplay develops magnificently the basic plot. Every scene is way enjoyable, the characters are extremely endearing and the dialogue is smart. Plus, the whole film feels so darn good. The movie was directed by Andrew Bergman, who’s really good at crafting comedies. He’s behind “The Freshman”, “Honeymoon in Vegas” (also with Cage) and… “Striptease”!?! Okay, his filmography ain’t perfect, but I’m still looking forward for whatever he does next. His visual style is interesting and he has a really good sense of storytelling. In this film, the film is told through newspaper headlines and on-screen narration from none other than Isaac Hayes.
But if there’s one thing that makes this film really really work, it’s the flawless cast. We hate the bad guys, and we love the good guys. Everyone plays his part perfectly. Take Rosie Perez, who plays Charlie’s bitchy wife Muriel. Is there an actress who could be more annoying than her? She’s perfect! Just like Stanley Tucci. He nails the sloppy and selfish bastard that is Yvonne’s ex hubby right through the barn door. Yvonne’s played by Bridget Fonda, a highly talented and lovely actress who must have got her family’s genes. As for the male lead, now there’s no doubt : no one could have portrayed Charlie better than Nic Cage. He often goes for weirdness, but when he wants to he can be human goodness personified. I always love Cage, and this is one of his finest performances, in one very special film.