WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Unfortunately, this movie is mainly famous or, more suitably, infamous, for the fact that Marisa Tomei won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in My Cousin Vinny.
Many people, moviegoers and critics found this to be a great mistake, one of the biggest in the entire story of the Academy.
Marisa Tomei in fact is not generally considered to be a great actress (and maybe she is not one of the greates indeed).
Judy Davis was also nominated, the same year, for her role in the movie Husbands and Wives, and what's for sure is that Judy Davis IS a greater actress than Marisa Tomei, as well as greater is her performance in Husbands and Wives, compared to Marisa Tomei's role in My Cousin Vinny.
This being sad, my personal opinion is that Tomei's performance in My Cousin Vinny is underrated and a very good one: she is fun, credible and convincing as Mona Lisa Vito, the leading character's fiancee.
The movie, however, is indeed centered on the lead character, Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci), as an atypical and unskilled lawyer, trying to save his cousin and friend from the severe penal law system of Alabama for a case of mistaken identity.
Joe Pesci delivers a performance that is absolutely delightful, proving that he is not only an exceptional dramatic actor (i.e. compare his performance in Goodfellas, etc.), but he can also be incredibly funny.
Few actors are able to deliver both dramatic and comic great performances, Joe Pesci is definitely one of them.
The plot develops around the differences and comic consequences from the contacts and contrasts between two New Yorkers (more than New Yorkers, Brooklyners!), Vinny and Mona Lisa, and the state and people from Alabama, in the deep south of the USA: two distant universe colliding, and the collision is utterly funny... :)
The court scenes and fights between lawyer Gambini and Judge Chamberlain Haller (Fred Gwynne, also delivering a shining performance) are just hylarious, as well as Vinny and Mona Lisa's discoveries of southern food delicatessen, etc.
Then, there are the fantastic nigt scenes: for a series of unfortunate events, Vinny is unable to really completely rest and sleep for an entire night, during his stay in Alabama, and the viewers get an unlimited amount of enjoyment and laughs out of this situation.
Appropriate apparel for court is another movie highlight, as Vinny slowly discovers that Brooklyn and Alabama are REALLY different, even regarding dress codes... :)
A final mention goes to Ralph Macchio as Bill Gambini, Vinny's younger cousin: it's a minor role, but the kid is likeable and emphatic as always.
If you haven't seen this movie, do it as soon as you can: you'll have a great time... And you'll maybe be able to learn how to properly cook grits, a real Southern specialty! :)... (read on) (show less)