By now I would hope you know I love movies. I love every movie that I’ve written about in some way and as you can imagine, I still love some movies more than others. This next one is one I could not wait to get to, and I had to be in the right place when I wrote it as I think that it will shock you how much I love it, given that it is not deemed a “classic” by any sense of the word; it’s a classic at my house, for reasons I’ll explain shortly.
“My Cousin Vinny” was one of the last movies I watched fresh with my entire immediate family (myself, mom, dad, my sister, and my little brother). I’ve written before about my father. He was generally a very somber, quiet man that didn’t say much–he laughed less. To hear it was a treat for all of us and I spent his lifetime trying to be funny enough to make him laugh. I think that he gave me some pity laughs from time-to-time to make me feel better. It wasn’t the same, but I’d take them. There was only one other movie (I’ll get to it eventually) that I remember him laughing at more loudly than “My Cousin Vinny.”
I was talking with friends today about the importance of mood having an affect on how you’ll take in a movie. If you’re not feeling well, or having a general annoyed feeling, your experience of a great movie could be ruined. I feel the same goes on the other end. If you are giddy and feeling great because it had been years since a family was all under one roof together, you might enjoy a “semi-decent” comedy a little more than normal and be ready for a huge laugh. The ” ” are how some might see it. My family and I do not, we love it.
I find it to be a very creative comedy about culture clash with a touch of Agatha Christie and enough of the Karate Kid to keep us guessing if he’ll have more lines…spoiler–he does not.
The premise is that two men from New York are taking a trip in their convertible through rural Alabama (Why? We don’t know, but they’re there…deal with it). They’re accused of murder and resort to inviting the Karate Kid’s “cousin Vinny” to come down and save them in court…hence the title. Enter Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini and it was my introduction to the beautiful and talented Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito. If you aren’t grinning about the character’s names already, don’t watch this movie…
The only other movie I had seen Pesci in at this point in my life was Lethal Weapon 2. I was aware of his comedic talent as a supporting actor. I learned very quickly that Pesci can carry a movie when given the proper material.
The supporting actors in the remainder of the cast are great too. Lane Smith as Jim Trotter III. He plays the prosecutor that is smooth and dead set on putting the defendants where he believes they belong. The ever reliable Bruce McGill (everybody’s favorite “Animal”) as Sheriff Farley. He has the difficult task of looking like the villain, and then redeeming himself in a very crucial moment–great acting for such a small part; important. My favorite is Fred Gwynne (everybody’s favorite “Munster”) as the honorable Judge Chamberlain Haller.
The material within “My Cousin Vinny” is always teetering on the edge of farce. Pesci’s Gambini is a large performance and he was obviously given the freedom to go big as well as Tomei with her Mona Lisa. Gwynne had the difficult task of watching “the massive” unfold in front of his bench, without playing into it. His calm, conservative, and southern demeanor amongst a foray of loud thespians (including Lane Smith as the arrogant prosecutor) is what glues the structure of this fine comedy through the projector.
As always, I don’t want to get too specific and give anything away. Those of you that have seen it and enjoyed already know what I am talking about. Those of you that have not and want to, should have the right to see it fresh. Those of you that have seen it and didn’t think much of it are probably not reading this any way.
Know this. It is a movie that I hold in high regard. Any movie that can make my father laugh out loud many times and almost choke to death twice…worth a looksy…