My Cousin Vinny

1992, Movie, R, 119 mins

Review

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Clocking in at just under two hours, MY COUSIN VINNY moves at an extremely leisurely pace for a Hollywood farce. But that's just one indication of what makes this appealingly quirky comedy stand apart from more run-of-the-mill fare. Driving across the country on their way to college, Bill Gambini and Stan Rothenstein (Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield) are arrested in Alabama. Thinking they've been accused of shoplifting, they sign confessions, only to discover they've been charged with murder. Enter Bill's cousin, Vincent La Guardia Gambino (Joe Pesci), a lawyer who graduated from law school six years earlier but who only passed the bar exam six weeks ago and has never been in a courtroom. Up against a curmudgeonly judge, Chamberlain Haller (Fred Gwynne), and a wily district attorney, Jim Trotter, III (Lane Smith), Vinny rises to the occasion, with the unexpected help of his leggy girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei), a self-taught automotive expert.

Joe Pesci projects a surprising depth here, shrewdly bringing down his usual cartoonish Brooklyn bravado a few notches. The film also benefits from a well-crafted plot, courtesy of screenwriter and co-producer Dale Launer (RUTHLESS PEOPLE, DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS), that puts a fresh twist on stock situations and characters.

The film's cast is a comfortable ensemble of reliable veterans like Gwynne and McGill, underrated performers like Macchio and at least one hot newcomer in Tomei, an accomplished comedienne with intelligence and talent to match her knockout looks. British director Jonathan Lynn (NUNS ON THE RUN) keeps planting unexpected grace notes along the way, making this a rare comedy that never quite wears out its welcome. leave a comment

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