Sunday, August 05, 2012

Scene Stealer: My Cousin Vinny

I think My Cousin Vinny is an underrated comedy.  The film about a fish out of water lawyer from Brooklyn trying his first big case in Alabama has many individual funny moments and some great acting performances.  Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci) winds up in so many awkward moments thanks to his brash personality and his lack of legal experience.  He thinks that wearing a tight-knit black cotton shirt under a leather jacket with black slacks is appropriate courtroom attire.  He doesn’t know how to stand when the judge enters the courtroom and he knows nothing about trial procedure or strategy because he’s never tried a case before.


When Vinny makes his first appearance in court, he’s reprimanded by the by-the-book judge for his attire, his lack of courtroom etiquette and his legal ineptitude.  Vinny takes the judge’s criticism to heart.  He buys a new suit, starts reading legal textbooks and genuinely works hard to win the case, but it isn’t easy.  He experiences one setback after another.  His hotel room is located next to a set of train tracks over which a roaring train passes every night.  Add to that a crowing rooster and a bunch of other rural sounds that wake Vinny in the middle of the night and very early every morning, and he reaches a point where he can’t sleep in that hotel room anymore.  He drives out to an empty field to sleep in his car, hoping for quiet serenity.  A powerful thunderstorm hits, but Vinny manages to sleep like a baby.  The next morning, he opens his trunk, slips on the muddy ground left slick from all of the rainfall the night before, and accidentally flings his clean suit into the mud.  
 
Scrambling to find somewhere in town to get get his suit cleaned, Vinny discovers that there is no one-hour dry cleaner in town so he must buy a new suit.  The problem is that the only store where he can buy a new suit is closed because the entire store has the flu.  His last resort is a vintage shop where he is forced to settle for an 18th century-looking, secondhand red, vintage usher suit.  When Vinny enters the courtroom wearing the vintage suit, the judge is none-too-pleased because he believes that Vinny is mocking him by wearing it.  The reaction of all in the courtroom, and particularly that of the judge, is one of my favourite moments in the film.  When the judge asks Vinny if he’s wearing the suit to mock him, Vinny replies, “It's either wear the leather jacket, which I know you hate, or this. So, I wore this ridiculous thing for you.”


10 comments:

  1. Of course Tomei's vibrancy is a high light but Pesci (and Ralph Macchio) do some good funny work. I especially love Pesci struggling with pronouncing "youth".

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    1. I really like Tomei in this film. The scene when she takes the stand is really great.

      I almost picked the "yutes" scene for this post, but I think the judge's reaction to Gambini's suit is really funny.

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  2. That is a great scene. I do love that comedy and I still think Marisa Tomei earned her Oscar. It just gave her a career that is still thriving.

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    1. It is a great comedy and I find it has good re-watchablity appeal too.

      I thought Tomei stole the film and it was nice to see a comedic performance awarded by the Academy.

      She's carved out quite a fine career for herself since that breakout role. I was actually re-watching 'In the Bedroom' over the weekend and I thought she was very strong in that film too.

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  3. The whole Marissa Tomei didn't actually win the Oscar thing overshadows the quality of this movie, for so long I just dismissed it as another comedy I saw when I was younger and automatically wouldn't be that good now. But there are so many great moments (as you've already pointed out two, you're clearly aware of this fact) that I think I enjoyed it even more on the repeat viewing.

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    1. You're right - I think the myth/non-myth, who knows anymore - about Tomei's name mistakenly being called over the "real" Oscar winner did kind of overshadow the film.

      It does have many great comedic moments and the performances are strong - it's a really fine comedy.

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  4. There is no end to my love for this movie, and this scene specifically. The reaction shots of the major principals involved as Pesci walks into the courtroom is simply hysterical. I love how he just owns it, quietly strutting in, hoping no one notices. Brilliant.

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    1. I couldn't agree more! This scene has always been one of my favourites.

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  5. One of my all time favourite films. You are right in saying that it is underrated. It was also one of the first few films that i bought on DVD. Brilliantly acted by all, it's COMEDY GOLD.

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    1. It's great to hear that someone else appreciates the film as much as I do for the very fine comedy that it is.

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