My Cousin Vinny [Blu-ray] (Bilingual) [Import]
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When two Italian-American boys from New York are falsely accused of murder in a small Alabama town, they call for a lawyer--but the only lawyer they know is their cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci), who made six attempts before he passed his bar exam. My Cousin Vinny is a classic fish-out-of-water comedy; the flimsy plot about clearing the two boys and solving the murder is just a hook to support a lot of culture-clash humor. Thanks to the strong cast of character actors like Fred Gwynne, Austin Pendleton, and Lane Smith, it's pretty funny--even old-hat jokes about Brooklyn versus Southern accents come to life. Pesci has played a few too many schticky characters, but this time it works. There's just enough humanity in his caricature to make Vinny likable and entertaining. When the movie was released, there was controversy about whether Marisa Tomei, playing Vinny's big-haired and black-leather-wearing fiancée, deserved to win the best supporting actress Oscar (she beat out Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, and Vanessa Redgrave); but seeing her performance on its own, it's a comic marvel and worthy of honor. --Bret Fetzer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Vinny's lack of court etiquette, such as dressing in leathers and arriving late, quickly upsets the traditionalist judge, played by a brilliantly dry Fred Gwynne. The judge decides to have Vinny investigated in order to prove he is not fit to take the case whilst Vinny races against time to complete the case before the judge finds any information against him.
Marisa Tomei is the real scene-stealer with her brilliant portrayal of Mona Lisa, her courtroom scenes are pure genius, and she deservedly won an Oscar for the part. The film is no high budget work of art and the DVD has little in the way of extras but the sheer quality of acting and the wonderfully funny script more than compensate.
When two college buddies by the names of Bill (played by Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitford) are driving down the roads of Beecham County, Alabama, they are suddenly arrested for the murder of a grocery store clerk, but what the police of Alabama don't know is that Bill and Stan are completely innocent. Unable to afford a public attorney, Bill turns to his cousin, Vincent Gambini (played by Joe Pesci), an ex-auto-mechanic turned lawyer from Brooklyn, New York, who just past his bar exam after failing it the first five times and knows absolutely nothing about law. By his side is his beautiful fiancee, Lisa Vito (played by Marisa Tomei, in her Oscar-winning role), who is an out-of-work hairdresser that knows every damn thing there is to know about cars. The court is led by Judge Chamberlain Haller (played by the late Fred Gwyne), who has absolutely no patience for any kind of misbehavior in his courtroom. Seems as though Vinny has now finally realized his no longer in New York and is now in a state where no one gets away with any kind of behavior or crime and has finally met his match. Can Vinny pull his cousin out of this mess without screwing up the case? Watch My Cousin Vinny as he desperately tries to save his little cousin while he gives you non-stop laughter along the way.
Vinny Gambini, brilliantly portrayed by Joe Pesci, is a Brooklyn boy who has finally passed the Bar (after repeated failures) and now finds himself defending his nephew and his nephew's friend against murder charges in the Bible Belt. Along with his too beautiful fiancee, played by Academy Award Winner Marissa Tomei, Pesci investigates the southern style of life, as he fathoms southern courtroom procedures and tries to get some sleep. The resulting clash of cultures is sometimes predictable, but honestly, is very inventive for the most part.
The comedy of the court room scenes is heightened by the late Fred Gwynne who plays the presiding judge. His by-the-book habits and short-fused temper are a perfect foil to Vinny's laconic style. It is their interaction that feeds most of the cultural clashing. But there is also a clash of the sexes that underlies the film, as Vinny stubbornly refuses the help of his fiancee. This confrontation is also highlighted in the courtroom when the DA refuses to believe that she could possibly be considered an expert in automechanics, even though her brothers, her father, her uncles, and just about everyone else in her family are expert mechanics. (The DA becomes convinced in a wonderful cross-interview scene.)
MY COUSIN VINNY was both critically well-received and a huge box-office success. There's a reason for that: it is a well-written, well-directed and perfectly acted comedy that stands up well even after repeated viewings. See it for yourself and you'll understand why, too.