Some films are such classics that commenting on them over a decade later since their initial release seems like a pointless venture. Still, My Cousin Vinny was such a hilarious film when it was released in 1992 that you can’t help but attempt to try. The film has long since become one of Joe Pesci’s most famous films and also the film that Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for, but even back when it was first released the film raked in an incredible amount of box office revenue. Combining an genuinely unique plot and a terrific cast, it’s not hard to see why so many still love My Cousin Vinny to this day.
Two New York teenagers travel down south through rural Alabama when a series of coincidences lands them in jail charged with first-degree murder in the Oscar winner** My Cousin Vinny, arriving on BD August 4 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Not being able to afford an attorney, the teens, Bill (Ralph Macchio, “Ugly Betty”) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield, “W.I.T.C.H.”) turn to Bill’s cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci, Goodfellas), an inexperienced lawyer who took six tries to pass his bar exam. Never having been in a trial, Vinny has to defend his clients and battle an uncompromising judge, some tough locals, and even his fiance, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler) who just does not know when to shut up, to prove his clients’ innocence.
It’s fantastic how this film is set up, because we’re led to believe that the stars of the film are really the two boys we’re introduced to. They’re eventually relegated to supporting cast, however, once Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei show up, which is almost a shame. It’s the subtle and innocent opening that sets the tone for the entire movie and makes this near two hour film a piece of cake to settle into. Few films can sink you into the story within the first few minutes, but this film had absolutely zero problems doing this and for that I have to commend it. I’ve seen many dramas do the same, but few comedies; this was just a fantastic bit of writing and made it a pure delight to watch.
It’s also remarkably “clean” for an R rated comedy. There is copious amounts of language (the only thing it’s rated for) to be sure, but unlike many comedies from the late 80s and early 90s (and modern day comedies as well) there is no nudity or rampant amount of sex. It’s really an almost wholesome, family comedy in a way…if it weren’t for the cursing, anyway. But few men have a mouth like Joe Pesci and it’s really just the way he says those words that make the film so damn funny at times.
I’m rather surprised this film wasn’t followed up with a sequel at some point (no, don’t try it Fox; you’d just end up with a disaster), because it was such a fresh concept at the time. Hell, it still is; while the concept of a city boy being out of place in a small town or a newbie to his profession aren’t original ideas, the combination of the two, along with the supporting cast, just made for a film that just doesn’t feel like any other. That’s an amazing feat to accomplish and for that this film will always be held in high regard for me; it’s really rare for a film to feel fresh even a couple years after its released, let alone seventeen years after.
The fantastic cast is really what keeps the film feeling as original as it was, simply because you never saw an assembly like this again. For that reason alone this a film that comes Highly Recommended; it’s not so much slapstick funny as it is just intelligently funny, with a lot of great jokes that don’t necessarily send you into fits of laughter but still stick with you.
My Cousin Vinny arrives on Blu-ray in a single disc Eco Elite case with an AVC (@19mbps) encoded transfer. Seventeen years is a lot of time to pile on a print and while the film shows its age occasionally, it still held up remarkably well. There is some softness and grain to be had and the films muted color palette doesn’t exactly jump off the screen. At the same time it’s a very clean transfer, with no artifacts or any kind transfer issues. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a tad bit underwhelming, simply because this is a comedy with audio focused up front, rather than spreading it around in surrounds or LFE…although the trains and whistles definitely wake up the speakers on several occasions.
Extras are sadly less than impressive and are ported over from the previous DVD release:
•Commentary by Director Jonathan Lynn
•2 TV Spots
•2 Theatrical Trailers
Extras could definitely be a lot better, but the commentary with Lynn is a nice treat at least. Old…but, still a nice track to have. Sadly there’s nothing new here and because of that you won’t get much from this release if you opt to upgrade; the transfer is certainly nice, but…comedies aren’t exactly something that require the Blu-ray format and this is probably a prime example of that. Although since the previous DVD release looks to either be OOP or hard to find…you may end up with this release anyway. Recommended if you can’t find the cheaper DVD alternative.
My Cousin Vinny is now available on Blu-ray.