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Rewatch Movie Review – My Cousin Vinny

joe pesci and marissa tomei in my cousin vinny
They really don’t blend.

Even though this movie was a weird choice to show on network TV, it’s still a super good flick holding up beautifully over time. Why is this a weird choice, you ask?

I’ll tell you: it features New Yorkers.  People who like to curse. In New York, cursing is like breathing, and this movie overflows with cursely monikers needing to be bleeped out. It was just bizarre to watch a film where half the lines were missing. They didn’t even bother to replace the phrases with non-offensive synonyms or a bleeping sound.

[pullquote]Fortunately, I’d seen this film enough in the past to not be confused by sentences like, “You little [dead space]”. But still, it felt like traveling back to the 80s. We can’t deal with a few [redacted] in our [redacted] lives? [/pullquote]

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Back to the movie. Joe Pesci as the title character was incredibly funny, and I don’t normally appreciate his humor. He embodied the role, full stop.  He reminded me of Jack Black in Jumanji 2 — another actor I normally dislike, but was so [redacted] perfect for the role that he won me over.

Ralph Macchio did a fine job as well, although the “two yutes” were basically fodder for Pesci ‘s particular style of New Yorkness. When Vinny finally got a good night’s sleep in jail made sense: If you’ve ever went to bed in Manhattan, you’ll realize that people yelling and banging around is a New York lullaby.

[pullquote position=”right”]But here I have to stop and talk about Marissa Tomei.  Despite the title, this was her movie. Try to imagine My Cousin Vinny without her contribution. It would just be a fish-out-of-water Pesci vehicle, and the Vinny character would revert back to Pesci’s usual annoying shtick[/pullquote]. Here he was softened, humanized, and even sympathetic. Vinny was in over his head, with the lives of the youngsters in his hands, and he only made it work with his fiance’s contribution.

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Tomei (as Lisa) upstaged everyone effortlessly, and had most of the best lines in this highly quotable film, like the highly usable,”Oh yeah, you blend.” She stomped around rural Alabama in impossible heels, wearing outrageous outfits that qualify as everyday attire in New York City. I’m from New York originally, and I certify you can possess an entire wardrobe without a hint of actual ‘cloth’ in it. That poor judge. (Who, by the way, played Herman Munster back in the day. This here was a shining role for the man. It’s hard to play the heavy and still be completely amusing. RIP, Fred Gwynne.)

Plot-wise, things come together somewhat conveniently (really? Lisa took a photo of tire tracks?), but you forgive these things because you’re having such a good time.  Lisa’s technical know-how is not only played as flirting with Vinny (see: “Dead-on balls accurate”), but has a true payoff in a final courtroom scene that is not to be missed. There are enough clues scattered around to hint at Lisa’s expertise, and even if the ending is unlikely, it feels satisfying.[pullquote] So, besides watching a film that’s funny just for the sake of being funny, it manages to be a clever and involving story.[/pullquote]

It kind of makes you want to take a road trip to Beechum County, AL, just to find a restaurant with a menu consisting of “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” and “Dinner.”  And, as we all know, it takes 20 minutes to make real grits. Ever had grits — real southern ones? They’re actually quite good.

So there you have it. A funny, happy film, still very watchable, where you’ll laugh a bit and love how everything comes together in the [redacted] end. Too bad they never gave us a sequel where Lisa and Vinny road trip across the country. I’d totally watch the [redacted] out of that.

Movie Grade: A-

 

 

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