My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Reviewed on 2012 March 13
This Nineties comedy is still good; and with the exception of some big hair and a little Eighties-style music, aged very well.
In a case of mistaken identity, Bill and Stan (Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield), two New York kids are nabbed for murder in Alabama. Sensing that the local law enforcement views them as a trophy catch, not to mention guilty as sin, Bill calls an attorney. Luckily he has one in his family: his loud, flashy cousin Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci). Vinny may not be the best attorney — he passed the bar on his sixth attempt — but he’s family.
Vinny and his ultra-flashy girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei, nabbing a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for her work here) stick out like sore thumbs, and Vinny irritates the judge (Fred Gwynne) with his very existence. The two friends are afraid they’re going to fry, but Vinny insists he’s a Gambini, and the kids will go to the chair over his dead body.
This takes the best elements of fish out of water and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and makes a funny script out of it without beating anything into the ground. What’s nice is that the stereotypes are used sparingly, just enough to make you laugh. My family is southern and one of my favorite bits is the diner sequence, where the owner tries explaining the concept of grits to Vinny. The whole setup isn’t completely ridiculous either, a common problem in movies like this. I always enjoy Joe Pesci, and Tomei was perfect as his mouthy but loving girlfriend, Mona Lisa.
Three chocolate morsels.