1992's My Cousin Vinny
is a delightful comedy-cum-courtroom drama set in Alabama. Joe Pesci stars as Vinny, the garage mechanic recently turned lawyer, who finds himself straight in at the deep end when his young cousin is unjustly arrested, along with his buddy, for the murder of a store clerk. From the opening scenes in which the hapless arrestees labour under the impression they've been booked for stealing a can of tuna, My Cousin Vinny
's comedic pace never slackens, even as the drama builds. Much of the fun derives from raw, Brooklyn native Vinny's coping with the cultural backwaters of the Deep South, from its lardy grits to the 5.30 am "alarm call" of the factory horn. There's a good running gag involving retrieving $200 from a recalcitrant local redneck, while his clashes with the court judge, played by the late Fred Gwynne are priceless. Pesci goads this stickler for procedures by mumbling expletives in court, turning up in a leather jacket, then a mauve frock coat and arousing the judge's suspicions as to his bona fides. However, it's Marisa Tomei who surprisingly, but justly, took an Academy Award for her performance as tomboyish Lisa, Vinny's girlfriend. Tart rather than tarty, she more than matches Pesci for Noo Yoik
sass and mechanical knowledge, delivering a court lecture on limited slip differential and independent rear suspension that oozes improbable sexiness.
On the DVD: a decent presentation in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, though it's only Tomei's bizarrely eye-catching costumes which especially merit DVD enhancement. There's also a commentary by director (and co-creator of Yes Minister) Jonathan Lynn, in which--though at times seeming to struggle for interesting things to say--he reminisces on the fear in shooting the film's prison scenes adjacent to Death Row in a maximum security prison. --David Stubbs
An excellent film, in excellent condition.