Critic Reviews



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My Cousin Vinny is easily the most inventive and enjoyable American film farce in a long time, even during those extended patches when it seems to be marking time or when it continues with a running gag that can't stay the distance. The film has a secure and sophisticated sense of what makes farce so delicious.
My Cousin Vinny is a terrific variation on the fish-out-of-water/man-from-Mars story formula. Starring Joe Pesci as a slicker in the land of grits, My Cousin Vinny should tickle funny bones in every region and ring out a green spring for 20th Century Fox at the box office.
Clocking in at just under two hours, MY COUSIN VINNY moves at an extremely leisurely pace for a Hollywood farce. But that's just one indication of what makes this appealingly quirky comedy stand apart from more run-of-the-mill fare.
Pesci's variation on New Jersey machismo (vulnerable in this case) isn't enough to fill a comedy; but Dale Launer's script luckily provides some fine routines for the supporting cast, notably the scene-stealing Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito, Pesci's sharp-tongued girlfriend. It's a small, surprisingly gentle affair, prone to fits and starts, but fun.
Tomei, sashaying through the proceedings as kind of a sexy hood ornament, creates a buoyant chemistry with her combative boyfriend.
The movie, however, is Pesci's. In that courtroom, he gets on a roll and stays rolling until the end. There's no one better with that New York-New Jersey corridor accent.
Given the temptations to goof it up, Pesci's performance in My Cousin Vinny is something of a triumph. As Vincent Gambini, a swaggering pint-sized New York lawyer who only recently passed the bar on his sixth try, Pesci modulates his usual psycho-nuttiness and gives it some recognizably human, even melancholy, undertones. The movie is a very mixed bag, but it's not quite the dumb fest that the TV spots make it out to be. Pesci gives Vinny's ultimate vindication a note of bittersweet triumph.
My Cousin Vinny is a movie that meanders along going nowhere in particular, and then lightning strikes. I didn't get much involved in it, and yet individual moments and some of the performances were very funny. It's the kind of movie home video was invented for: Not worth the trip to the theater, but slam it into the VCR and you get your rental's worth.
It's hardly brilliant. But it's easygoing and occasionally quite funny and ultimately satisfying.
At two hours, something as thin and unexceptional as this, is just too long. The result is that all the running gags run out of steam and there are far too many fudgy bits between the comic highlights. Nevertheless, lightly likable.

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