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My Cousin Vinny

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 114 mins . M15+ . PAL


Two Noo Yawk “yoots”, Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield), are cruising down south in their ageing ‘60s convertible, on their way to college life at UCLA. They stop at an Alabama convenience store, the delightfully named Sac-O-Suds, to stock up on a few groceries and then get back on the road, when Bill realises he inadvertently forgot to pay for a can of tuna he stuffed in his pocket as he was carrying too much at the time. Soon after the boys notice a cop tailing them, they’re pulled over, arrested and carted off to the Beechum County Sheriff’s office.

Astounded at this treatment over a shoplifted can of tuna, they soon realise they’re in much deeper doo-doo as a murder wrap, for that of the convenience store clerk, is being pinned on them. It’s definitely time for these boys to enlist the services of an attorney – a great attorney. A quick call home reveals that Bill’s cousin Vinny is indeed of the lawyering persuasion, and so they rather eagerly await his arrival while holed up in prison.

Unfortunately, Vinny (Joe Pesci) isn’t quite as experienced as they had hoped, and in fact has had no court room practice whatsoever. The boys take what they’ve got, and along with his fiancée Lisa (Marisa Tomei), Vinny sets to work on their case. Things don’t go too well, however, as he faces dealing with a somewhat fastidious Yale-educated judge (Fred Gwynne, sadly in his final film appearance), and coming to grips with the whole judicial process and how it plays out down south. Will he prove Bill and Stan’s innocence, or will the boys fry like the best southern chicken?

"What, ya gotta let everyone know you're a tourist?”
“Me? What about you? I fit in better than you, at least I'm wearin' cowboy boots!”
“Oh, yeah, you blend..."

A comedic court room drama that manages to maintain plenty of the latter and still deliver laughs isn’t the easiest of things to achieve, yet My Cousin Vinny handles the task with seeming ease. Chock full of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, yet also handling the culture and class clashes when NY meets Alabama with much aplomb (and without taking the piss out of the south as so many such films seem to do in pursuit of cheap laughs), it is tightly scripted, beautifully paced, and never dull within its almost two hour running time.

Fresh from his award winning performance in Goodfellas, Pesci proves his versatility with his simultaneously annoying and also incredibly likeable take on the title character. Speaking of award winners, much fuss was made at the time over Tomei winning the Best Supporting Actress Academy award for her role here – with rumours that it was actually a mistake. While it is indeed rare for a comedy to win such an award from the generally stuffy Academy, Marisa’s simply fabulous performance here essentially steals the film – and if nothing else she deserved the award simply for remaining straight-faced whilst wearing such simply ludicrous outfits!


While it must be said that this 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced transfer won’t be winning any awards for greatness anytime – well – ever, it is still surprisingly good when compared with many other films of its vintage on DVD. Exhibiting an ever-so-slightly under-saturated look to the colour, the main issues are that overall everything appears just a little dark throughout and there are quite a few obvious examples of edge enhancement and haloing. Otherwise it’s a pleasingly clean print – speckles will be seen, however not to any major degree, detail doesn’t suffer too much from the slight darkness, and the layer change is brilliantly placed in a quiet, still scene so as it cruises by virtually undetected.


Vinny’s transition to DVD retains the original format of theatrical soundtrack – surround encoded Dolby Digital stereo. A film where the dialogue is the biggest star, the sound doesn’t suffer at all for its virtual lack of surround usage, although a few scenes where noise is used as a comedic device could perhaps have benefited from a bit of a modern-day tweak. Speaking of dialogue, even the often extreme southern accents pose no problems in the understanding department, and synching is dead on balls accurate.

The score comes courtesy of Randy Edelman, who cooked up an appropriately bluesy/twangy mix that suits the film well, and sits aside the selection of “both kinds” of musical numbers (that’s country AND western in case you’re wondering) quite well, even if the likes of Travis Tritt (which rhymes with “grit”!) may not be your personal cup of (Texas) tea.


The rather bland static and silent menus don’t have a lot of surprises hidden within, however the inclusion of a commentary from director Jonathan Lynn is certainly pleasing. Whilst often incredibly gappy, Lynn manages to be engaging despite his rather matter of fact delivery style. Much of the usual trivia you expect from decent commentaries is included, such as location secrets, camera techniques used, changes to the script and actor choices – such as the opposition he met in casting “Herman Munster” as a dignified Southern judge. He also takes the opportunity to express his own thoughts on the death penalty, and why not, it’s his commentary goddammit!

Also included are two full frame trailers, the teaser and also the release one (the latter complete with a rather silly and fun intro sequence). Both are of only passable quality vision-wise, are quite similar and actually don’t necessarily demonstrate what a fabulous little film this actually is.


Having not seen My Cousin Vinny since it was released ten years ago, I’d forgotten what a simply wonderful and enjoyable movie it really is. Chock full of clever AND funny dialogue, measured moments of physical comedy and with a cast that suits perfectly, if you’ve never had the pleasure then what are you waiting for? After all, your biological clocks are ticking...

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      And I quote...
    "What are you waiting for? After all, your biological clocks are ticking... "
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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