‘My Cousin Vinny’ with director Jonathan Lynn

Title:
My Cousin Vinny (PG-13)
Written by:
Dale Launer
Directed by:
Jonathan Lynn
Starring:
Joe Pesci as Vinny
Marissa Tomei as Mona Lisa
Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain
Ralph Macchio as Billy
Mitchell Whitfield as Stan
Austin Pendleton John Gibbons
Lane Smith as Jim Trotter III
Bruce McGill as Sheriff Dean

By Scott Knopf from He Shot Cyrus

Pre-screening memories: Take one part Family-Friendly Home Invader, one part Rookie Martial Artist, and one part George Costanza Fantasy Object and you’ve got the formula for a movie Young Scott would have drooled over. And did. No distinct “initial Cousin Vinny screening” memories to speak of but I have plenty of memories of the film since then. My favorite Vinny memory is when I talked My Conservative Mother into watching this R-rated film with me with promises that probably sounded like “There’s nothing bad in it, maybe a little language.” My Conservative Mother enjoyed the movie then but denies it now.

Pesci and Tomei’s characters are incredibly unforgettable. The thick accents, Years after having seen it last, the most memorable scenes are undoubtedly the most mundane. Discussions on regional mud or how to properly prepare grits not only make for humorous dialogue but each play a pivotal role in the court case at the center of the film. Macchio, on the other hand, plays a not-so-memorable character whose friend and co-defendant is even more so. But they all serve their purpose and at the end of the day, you’ve got a movie that Scott, young and old, drools over.

New memories: The writing is so tight! Every little scene you think is unimportant or menial turns out to be a part of this gigantic puzzle. Vinny is right up there with that episode of “Law & Order” where those people stumble upon a dead body at the beginning. Herman Munster (his human name escapes me) is fantastic as the Southern judge with a distaste for shenanigans.

And of course, this movie is famous for the Oscar award that followed. The Academy and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye (Diane Lane in Unfaithful. Anyone? Anyone?) and with all the trash talk aimed towards them over Tomei’s win, I figured that the list of her competitors would be shocking and undeniably more deserving of statues. That’s what I figured until I read this list:

  • Miranda Richardson – Damage
  • Joan Plowright – Enchanted April
  • Vanessa Redgrave – Howard’s End
  • Judy Davis – Husbands and Wives

First, I have no idea who Miranda Richardson is.

Second, never heard of Damage either

C. Joan Plowright was great as Mrs. Wilson in the Dennis the Menace movie.

D. What’s Enchanted April?

Fifth, I won’t way anything bad about Vanessa Redgrave but Howard’s End is a 140-minute period piece romance taking place at the turn of the century. Which century, you ask? Not the twenty-first, I can tell you that.

E. Judy Davis? For Husbands and Wives? Thanks for trying, maybe next never.

So, these were the women who everyone thought should beat Marissa Tomei? The early 90s were an odd time for us all but this is just silly.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘My Cousin Vinny’ podcast right here

or make your case right on the site bu listening below:


Our featured guest: Director Jonathan Lynn

We once again welcome Jonathan Lynn, who actually knows a thing or two about law, having earned his degree years prior to his involvement in entertainment. Here, he chats about the casting process of Vinny, the prospective of an Englishman directing culture clashes between the States’ North and South, who was originally supposed to play Vinny, and the various rumors that have surrounded the film.

Find out about Vinny’s legacy as well as Lynn’s favorite scene in this particular podcast, and we are thankful to Mr. Lynn for hanging with us once again.

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5 Comments

  1. The fact that you don’t know who Miranda Richardson says far more about you than it does about Miranda Richardson. I suggest you look both her, and her performance in ‘Damage’ up. You might just learn something.

    • No offense, but I believe it was written tongue in cheek by Scott.

    • I’ll second that — Claiming to have never heard of her or ‘Damage’ is not sarcasm – it’s simple ignorant arrogance. Scott, your ass is showing.

  2. Terrific stuff guys. My Cousin Vinny is one of those movies that has not lost its replay value for me in later years. I remember it fondly as a kid but the film is a funnier much richer movie now when I watch it as an adult. Love the podcast too – Jonathan Lynn is one of my favourite writer-directors – I love his control of comedy and character – Clue and Nuns on the Run are two of my favourite comedies, while I rate Distinguished Gentleman and even Sgt. Bilko (yes, I said Bilko!) as guilty pleasures.

    • Thanks, Dan. I have not seen Distinguished Gentleman since I saw it as a youth in the theater. I was in my “watch-anything-with-Eddie” phase, and much of the political stuff went right over my head. Jonathan has been gracious enough to humor me in revisiting that, as I have a feeling that now I am a more politcal beast, this will resonate much more with me.


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