Plot: What’s it about?
Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield) were just taking a trip through the south when they became victims of circumstance. Well, more like a series of circumstances to be sure, but suffice it to say they find themselves in deep trouble before they know what hits them. As the two friends pass through Alabama, the bad times roll and after a series of strange and unlucky events the two are arrested on charges of first degree murder. Of course the two are totally innocent of the charges, but with such unusual circumstances they are forced to go to trial. With no other options since the two have no money, Bill informs Stan that he has a lawyer in his family who could help them out. So soon after Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) and his girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) arrive on the scene, but Vinny isn’t exactly a lawyer as of yet since he needs to pass the bar exam. His fast talk and strange leather attire don’t blend in the Alabama atmosphere to be sure, but he has to come through for these boys or they’ll end up with the death penalty on their slates.
This has become somewhat of a classic comedy over the years and I have to agree that is a fantastically funny movie. This is of course a fish out of water storyline, so you need that fish to be a good one to make the movie work and Joe Pesci is excellent in this one. The interactions between the urban Vinny and the rural locals is hilarious and makes me laugh no matter how times I watch this movie. While many scenes are memorable and funny, I am partial to the “mud in the tires” sequence which is brief but very humorous. The writing is very good throughout and the dialogue shines at all times, but if you’re easily upset by profanity this isn’t a movie you should look into. But come on now, did you really expect Pesci to play a character like this and not spout the “f” word like there’s no tomorrow? I think fans of comedies of all varieties will find a lot to like with this movie and fans of Pesci will not want to miss his performance here. This Blu-ray release offers only moderate improvements over the DVD, so an upgrade is probably not worth it in most cases.
This film was directed by Jonathan Lynn, who is no stranger to delivering some terrific comedies during his career. While this is a very funny movie to be sure I don’t think Lynn’s basic style adds much to the overall impact. I suppose the “hands off” style used by Lynn makes sure the comedy is the focus though, which I think is a good idea for a movie like this. The camera never takes flashy pans or similar steps, but this isn’t a bad thing in the least. Lynn isn’t a stylish director in any way, but I can’t help but love most of his movies. If you want to see more of Lynn’s films I recommend The Whole Nine Yards, Trial and Error, The Distinguished Gentleman, Sgt. Bilko, and Greedy. The lead in this film is played by Joe Pesci (Goodfellas, Casino) and no one else could have played this role as good as he does. This is Pesci’s finest comedic performance in my opinion and all fans of his work should check this one out. Marisa Tomei (Slums Of Beverly Hills, Four Rooms) is also excellent in her role and she even took home a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her efforts. The supporting cast also includes Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid, The Outsiders), Fred Gwynne (Tv’s The Munsters, Pet Sematary), Lane Smith (Red Dawn, Son in Law), and Mitchell Whitfield (Lost & Found).
Video: How does it look?
My Cousin Vinny is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. If you want to ditch your DVD, then you’re in luck, but if you wanted a knockout visual effort, you’ll be let down. This transfer does render the DVD obsolete, even if by a slim margin, but this isn’t one of Blu-ray’s finest titles. The image is clean, but sharpness runs below what we’ve come to expect and at times, could be confused with a standard presentation. The standout moments don’t even spark much of an impression, this one is mediocre through and through.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 gets the job done, but the material is so undemanding, this was a softball. The music adds a little life here and there, but this soundtrack is all about dialogue. The vocals sound clean and clear, despite the accents involved, so no one-liners are left out in the cold. The rest of the elements sound fine, but never stand out at all. So surround use is minimal, but in this case that works out fine. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, Spanish and French language tracks, and subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The extras here include a dull director’s commentary, some television ads, and two of the film’s theatrical trailers.