Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Cousin Vinny [1992]

Director: Jonathan Lynn
Cast: Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei ♥, Ralph Macchio, Mitchell Whitfield, Fred Gwynne, Lane Smith
Genre: Comedy/Courtroom drama
Rating: General
Excerpt: "One of the few movies where almost every scene is memorable..."

Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield) are two friends from New York driving through Alabama for a holiday. Upon stopping at a convenience store, Bill picks up a can of tuna but forgets to pay for it, for which they are stopped by the local authorities for shoplifting. Or so they thought. Unbeknownst to them, the store clerk is shot dead soon after the two take their leave, and there are eyewitnesses who claim to have seen them commit the crime. Bill calls home, desperate to get a good attorney to defend them, and he is delighted to learn that there is a practicing attorney in his family, his cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci).

What to Expect
1. A laugh-out-loud comedy movie
2. Joe Pesci flexing his comedic muscles really well
3. Bombshell Marisa Tomei ♥
4. Memorable characters

What NOT to Expect
1. Filler scenes
2. To feel the time passing by
A masterpiece.
Had I been old enough to have gone and see this movie when it was released, I probably wouldn't like it as much. But the reason why My Cousin Vinny is an enduring title even after all these years is because it's the stuff that home videos are made for. The kind of movie you would play at home, on a movie night with friends. It never tried to dazzle you with anything, and not once you will feel the thrill of second-guessing yourself about how the conclusion is going to turn out. You know, like how courtroom dramas tend to make you do?

But that's perfectly alright because My Cousin Vinny is a solid comedy that was beautifully played by its cast.

It was a simple, straightforward drama that played out very much like a sitcom, and it was every bit as tightly-written as any twenty-minute television show. So you will see how each scene was made to either set up the next one, or to provide relevance to another plot point, neatly tying it all up. Simply put, despite not being a fast-paced movie, it will waste none of your time by showing scenes that are of no significance whatsoever to the story as a whole.

One example was the argument between Joe Pesci's and Marisa Tomei's characters. It will seem trivial the first time you see it, but trust me when I say, everything about the scenes was well thought out.

Now, comedy is very subjective, so you might need to take what I say here with a pinch of salt. But I found myself laughing out loud every now and then, along with a bunch of giggles in between. Much of its humour came from a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications between the characters, again very much like a sitcom. In fact, I would say that it was a reminiscent of a Frasier [1993-2004] episode, my favourite sitcom of all-time after.

At the centre of what made the movie work was the performance of Joe Pesci as Vincent "Vinny" Gambini. It would have been better had Pesci been a little younger by the time the movie was made. It would have fit the character better, but then again this is a microscopic flaw that you wouldn't really care about because there's really no substitute for what Joe Pesci did in this movie. His comedic timing and even the occasional slapstick comedy couldn't be any more excellent.

It amazes me every time I think about it, about how the guy is almost like a walking contradiction. He is small in stature, but he has built up quite a reputation for himself by convincingly portraying tough and violent characters. But he could easily go one-eighty and opt for comedic roles, which he did for Home Alone [1990] and of course, this movie.

Joining him are the rest of the cast who were no less impressive. Worthy of note were Marisa Tomei ♥ as Mona Lisa Vito and Fred Gwynne as Judge Haller. I would say that the exchanges between Vinny and the other two characters were the highlights of this movie.

If you're waiting for me to talk about the flaw(s) of the movie, then I'm gonna have to say it will never come. I never looked for any during my time watching the movie. Not that I had the time anyway. In fact, the two hours passed by so breezily, I almost didn't notice it. Which is really the mark of a good movie, wouldn't you say? If there's anything to digress, it would be how comedy is subjective. I for one tend to laugh the loudest at clever wordplays, puns, double-entendres, and the type of humour often found in classic sitcoms (like the aforementioned Frasier)

It's either that, or you're more of a fan of comedies (I'm using the term very, very loosely) by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, or the atrocious Hantu Bonceng [2011]. Not that there's anything wrong with that. All I'm saying is that if you are a fan of that brand of humour, then you probably wouldn't love My Cousin Vinny as much as I do.


Jun said...

Thanks for the review. I bet I'll download it and give it a try.

Mamü Vies said...

Great. Let me know if you like it :)

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