Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Movie #461: My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny is a courtroom comedy starring Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio, Mitchell Whitfield, Fred Gwynne, Austin Pendleton, Lane Smith, and Bruce McGill. It's written by Dale Launer, the same guy who wrote Love Potion No. 9, which is a little surprising given how awful that movie is.

Billy and Stan (Macchio and Whitfield, respectively) are driving through Alabama on their way to California when they get arrested for murder. Billy, as it turns out, has a lawyer in the family - Vinny (Pesci), who zips down south with his fiancee Lisa (Tomei).

Vinny is a decent investigator, but he's kind of a lousy lawyer; he's never been in court, he's only been practicing for six weeks, and he knows next to nothing about courtroom procedure. He's street smart and quick on his feet when he needs to be, but doesn't make an especially good showing right away. With Lisa's help, though, he manages to discover holes in the prosecution's case and actually solve it himself (which was really the only way to ensure a dismissal; if the case had gone to verdict who knows what the jury would do).

This is one of my favorite comedies; it's funny without being mean. Lisa and Vinny have a passionate, believable relationship (I mean, the age difference is notable but not Sean Connery/Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment), and the supporting cast is fantastic. Standouts include Fred Gwynne as the towering, no-nonsense judge and Lane Smith as the zealous but ethical DA.

Really, though, this movie belongs to Tomei. Her courtroom scene at the end is fantastic, and it won her an Oscar (and an urban legend!). The movie is also apparently touted as being a pretty realistic depiction of the trial process. All in all, it's light and it's fun and in general I'm a fan of R-rated comedy.

My Grade: A
Rewatch value: High

Next up: My Fair Lady