Combining elements of courtroom drama and comedy, ‘My Cousin Vinny’ is a delicious and very fun film experience. Unlike some comedies from this era, this 1992 film actually has a coherent plot which provides a firm anchor for the comedy throughout.
Two college friends are arrested as they drive through Alabama after evidence suggests that they are the prime suspects in a first degree murder case. Given that Billy (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) can’t afford a lawyer to defend them during the trial, Billy’s cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci) is called in to help. The shakily qualified Vinny is a personal injury lawyer from New York who has no trial experience. When Vinny and his fiancée Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) arrive in town they are readily identified as outsiders and consequently can’t help but stir things up.
Given that the prosecution’s case is built on circumstantial evidence and a series of miscommunications with Billy and Stan, hilarity of course ensues. Joe Pesci is in his element as the attorney with attitude who immediately gets the Judge offside with his manner, lack of courtroom procedure and unique wardrobe choices. Marisa Tomei is also entertaining as Vinny’s fiancée with marriage and children constantly on her mind. In fact, she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this role in what has often been viewed as a controversial decision.
Lack of sleep takes its toll on Vinny as he struggles to find decent accommodation in town. With a defence case built around the time required to properly cook grits, matching tyre marks and car models, it makes for interesting viewing. The relationship between Lisa and Vinny interestingly also becomes critical to their case, with Lisa’s in-depth knowledge of cars (gained from growing up in a household of mechanics) coming to the fore.
For those who enjoy good honest fun movies which offer many laughs, this completely fits the bill. It is a great movie to return to on a lazy Sunday or during the end of year holiday period.