Pesci's Talkin' Tomei
"My Cousin Vinny" reminds me of "Stir Crazy" because they are both fun movies with some amusing set pieces but in truth work because of two actors playing fun characters. Those two people in this case are Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei with Tomei surprising everyone when she walked away with the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. It is because they deliver such comical performances of such comical characters that "My Cousin Vinny" ends up the sort of movie which every few years you would be happy to watch again.
As they drive through Alabama friends Bill (Ralph Macchio - The Karate Kid, Part III) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) find themselves being arrested which they think is because Bill accidentally stole a can of tuna from a shop. To their shock and after much confusion they discover that they have been arrested for murder and so Bill calls his mum to try and get them an attorney. Well she sends an attorney but it is his cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci - JFK) from Brooklyn who has yet to try a case in court having taken many years to pass the exams and has no idea of court procedure. Fortunately Vinny is not alone as he arrives with girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei - Cyrus) who has a special talent and a range of short skirts.
So as I said "My Cousin Vinny" works because of two performances but before I get to them there is the storyline. Now part of the storyline is all about Vinny being naive when it comes to court procedure and along with Mona being a fish out of water when it comes to life in Alabama. As such we have plenty of fun scenes from them heading into a diner to order breakfast and having never seen Grits before to Vinny being completely oblivious to procedures in the courtroom. And there is no denying this is all entertaining but there are plenty of fish out of water movies which this is.
But the other part is also of course the evolution of Vinny and along with Mona winning the case. And that is where there are plenty more laughs and where Marisa Tomei comes into her own. As such it is fair to say that most of the comedy going on comes from in the walls of the courtroom.
But as I said "My Cousin Vinny" works because of Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei. They both have comical characters to play full of American-Italian attitude who don't fit in down South but they bring those characters to life with plenty of comical attitude. The way they react and talk to each other, stand and look is just perfect. They also have a good supporting cast with Fred Gwynne delivering an amusingly calm performance as the judge who keeps on finding Vinny in contempt of court. Ironically Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield as Bill and Stan despite taking up a fair slice of screen time seriously end up playing second fiddle.
What this all boils down to is that "My Cousin Vinny" works because of the fun performances of Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei who as Vinny and Mona Lisa bring their already amusing characters to life.