Magic Grits

My Cousin Vinny is one of the funniest courtroom comedies I’ve ever seen. I don’t watch trial movies often, but my mom strongly recommended it. I’m glad she did, because My Cousin Vinny is both an accurate and entertaining depiction of the legal process. It brings together three of the biggest Italians working in Hollywood at the time. The hotheaded Joe Pesci is perfect for inexperienced New York lawyer Vinny Gambini. He’s profane, but hilarious in a culture clash story where his young cousin and friend end up in a rural Alabama murder case.

This is one of a few times I’ve seen Ralph Macchio in a role other than The Karate Kid. Bill and his nervous friend Stan are falsely imprisoned when a car matching their description is mistaken for theirs. Several misunderstandings made me laugh out loud. Vinny does his best to talk his way through court, but the more reserved Southern inhabitants don’t make it easy for him. Fred Gwynne shines in his final film role as the judge looking for any reason to hold Vinny in contempt. Stan wants someone more professional, but the public defender is a bit of a mess.

Between those challenges is a particularly funny running gag where several things keep Vinny and his fiancé awake. Easily the biggest standout is relative newcomer Marisa Tomei as the fiery, but intelligent Mona Lisa Vito. She steals the show and won a much deserved Oscar for her humorous dynamic with Pesci and courtwinning automotive knowledge. Vinny eventually gets the hang of being a lawyer by using what he learns about the town. Everything from grits to tire tracks. My Cousin Vinny makes court fun.

My Cousin Vinny

Vinny cross-examines Mona Lisa

6 thoughts on “Magic Grits

  1. I remember when Tomei won the Oscar. My jaw dropped. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. People were so incredulous that they started theorizing that presenter Jack Palance deliberately read the wrong name (according to the legend, Palance refused to give the Oscar to Vanessa Redgrave, whose politics had made people angry). The funny thing is that time has proven the Oscars right. I readily admit that I was wrong — I re-watched the movie and found Tomei’s performance absolutely brilliant.

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