“My Cousin Vinny” is a delightful B-grade romp that really passes more as a light-hearted drama rather than a comedy. Sure, there are some funny moments, but it won’t have you rolling around on the floor with laughter. The film is ultimately carried by a strong story and memorable performances, particularly from Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei and the ‘Karate Kid’ Ralph Macchio. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours and you even get to see Herman Munster, I mean Fred Gwynne, serve as the courtroom Judge in a great performance.
Joe Pesci commands the screen in most films he’s in. This film is no different although he’s less intense with this character, instead playing off the laughs by establishing at first what seems to be a joke of a person in to someone who is actually very intelligent, a keen debater, but somewhat stubborn. Here he comes to the aid of his cousin and his friend who are charged for murder. The comedy lies in watching Gambini try to win his first big court case while not fully understanding what he needs to do (ie trying to scheme the DA’s files off of him when he could have just asked). Marisa Tomei is also good as Gambini’s foil, providing some the necessary support and backup. It’s actually a little puzzling why this was considered oscar-winning material for her but I’m sure she’s not complaining.
The most entertaining part of this film was the mystery plot, something that from the outset doesn’t appear to be the obvious hook for a comedy like this. All of the circumstantial evidence points to the two kids and its damning, but one point after another, Gambini manages to completely dismantle the DA’s case through some very clever research and valid arguments, while trying not to get expelled by the court by the judge. In the end, he has to rely on his girlfriend’s testimony as an expert auto mechanic (another in-joke given Tomei’s appearance in the film) to win the case.
Despite my not labelling the film a comedy, there are some funny moments including a recurring subplot of Pesci not being able to get a decent night’s sleep due to certain ‘distractions’, Gambini’s inability to find an appropriate suit to wear to court and continuing to infuriate the judge, and his muscle-man scene where he gets to over power a guy twice his size after the man doesn’t cough up a bet he had with Tomei’s character.
Overall, this is a fun film that you’ll enjoy.
For the complete, original DVD review, click this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/dvdreviewmycousinvinny.htm