Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Cousin Vinny (1992)

I find My Cousin Vinny guilty of the following:

1. too long at 120 minutes;

2. too much swearing;

3. running the same joke into the ground - ties in with first offence;

4. only being occasionally funny.

My memory suggested I enjoyed this film from director Jonathan Lynn upon its release in the early 1990s. I was wrong.

Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) are on their way to college when they stop into a corner store in Alabama. They're mistaken for a couple of suspects who robbed the business, and shot a clerk dead, shortly after their departure.

Bill has a cousin, Vinny (Joe Pesci), who's a lawyer. Well, that's true, but it also took this member of the Gambini six years to pass his bar exam. He's never participated in a criminal trial. Vinny is joined by his long-time fiancee, Mona (Marisa Tomei), the brains of the operation.

Vinny's ways don't sit well with Judge Haller (Fred Gwynne), who's hearing the case.

It's hard to believe just how clueless Gambini is about courtroom procedure and decorum when meeting with the judge. Putting his feet up on Haller's desk. Really? Showing up for court without a tie? Surely Gambini isn't that dumb. Or, how about Vinny's continually making snide remarks to Haller, thus being found in contempt of court. How dim is this guy?

Stan begins to lose confidence in Vinny's abilities, prompting him to go with public defender Austin Pendleton (John Gibbons). Too bad he stutters. Is this kind of humour still considered funny in 2015?

But, surprise, surprise, Vinny begins to shine in the courtroom, which is also hard to believe after all the incredibly stupid questions he asks when he interviews witnesses before the case begins.

Now, about those jokes being run into the ground. Vinny can't get a good night's sleep. This fact is repeated over, and over, and over again. The only really funny moment comes with the final reference when he's so tired he sleeps through a riot in jail. That's funny.

I found the best moments in My Cousin Vinny, and unfortunately there's not a lot, comes from subtle humour like that. A restaurant menu reference is funny. Vinny noticing a bar patron with a neck brace, and seeing a potential client, is funny.

Marisa Tomei won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her work here. I give her top marks for her Bambi speech when Vinny prepares to go hunting with the prosecutor.

Director Jonathan Lynn directed another courtroom comedy, Trial and Error, with Jeff Daniels, Michael Richards and her fourth film role, Charlize Theron, five years later. I'm curious to watch that film again because I think it's funnier than this so-so effort.

RATING: 5/10

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