Joe Pesci is still best remembered for his roles in Martin Scorsese’s gangster films and as an excellent assistant to Robert De Niro, who usually liked the lead role. In addition to winning his only Oscar for the legendary role of a wild mobster in “Goodfellas”, he was also nominated for supporting roles in “Raging Bull” and the recent “The Irishman”, and this silly comedy of confusion is one of the few films in which Pesci grabbed the lead role. However, the Oscar went to “My Cousin Vinny” again for a supporting role, and it was taken by the until then fairly anonymous actress Marisa Tomei, who played the fiancee of an inexperienced lawyer from the Bronx who arrived in Alabama to rescue her nephew and his friend from prison. .
Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Rotchild) are students who headed from New York to Los Angeles, unfortunately through the American South. They will stop in a small town in Alabama to fill up on gas, buy something to eat, and after Bill mistakenly pockets a can of tuna, they will be picked up by the local police. To their dismay, instead of being charged with petty theft, they will face charges of murdering a gas station attendant, and their mother will remind Bill that they have a lawyer in the family, cousin Vinny Gambini (Pesci), who will be on his way with fiancée Mona Lisa Vito (Tomei). towards the south.
But the problem is that Vinny has absolutely no experience with these types of cases and in his short career has dealt exclusively with insurance collections and has never tried a case before a jury. And although it seems impossible for a scrappy and inexperienced lawyer from the Bronx to save the young men from a potential death sentence, that typical street smarts, resourcefulness and cunning, could prove to be the decisive elements here. Screenwriter Dale Launer has previously written only comedies, the most memorable of which is “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with Michael Caine and Steve Martin, and it is a simple and drinkable parody of the then popular courtroom dramas in Hollywood.
It is a film that intentionally parodies stereotypes about the American South, so all the characters there are the typical dull primitives who despise the team from the north, and Launer came up with the idea for “My Cousin Vinny” as a student when he heard about the story of a guy who passed the bar exam on the 13th attempt. However, it was not until many years later that this idea matured in his head and was born into a film in which Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Peter Falk and Jim Belushi also appeared as candidates for the role of Vinny, but Pesci was chosen because he is an exemplary example of an Italian-American. what they were looking for. It is also interesting how the candidates for the roles of Bill and Stan were Ben Stiller and Will Smith, but in the end the other duo was chosen.