My Cousin Vinny

 
(i)

 

Courtroom comedy will appeal to teens. Some strong language.
  • Review Date: August 7, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1992
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Honesty, loyalty, and playing by the rules triumph. People who take advantage of others and prey on those weaker than themselves can be conquered by intelligence and confidence. It's not always possible to judge a person's worth by exterior appearances.

Positive role models

Leading characters demonstrate courage, resourcefulness, a sense of fair play, and smarts despite the fact that they look ignorant and in over their heads when we first meet them. The sheriff and court officials prove to be honest and impartial, unlike those characterized in most comedies about the Southern justice system.  

 

 

Violence

A character fires a pistol into the air several times in anger. One well-aimed punch in the jaw. There's a detailed verbal description of deer hunting.

Sex

A few loving kisses between an engaged couple. They are also seen nestling together in bed.

Language

Frequent cursing throughout. Many uses and permutations of "s--t," "f---k," as well as "dickhead," "ass," "goddamn it," "balls," etc. The language is used as a device to define the characters, their backgrounds, and street credentials.

Consumerism

Bush's beans are center focus in one sequence.  Other products shown briefly are: Canon, Coca Cola, Mother's Cookies, and some beer.

 

 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Judge smokes. Lawyer has a drink in hand while on the phone.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the language is crude throughout. Because the film's humor and story are appealing to older tweens and teens, it's regrettable that the filmmakers illustrate the "fish out of water" nature of the leading characters with so much swearing and rough language.

What's the story?

When two college-bound New York boys are mistakenly arrested for murder in a small Alabama town, Vinny (Joe Pesci), who is a cousin of one of the boys and who has recently passed the bar after six tries, is called to the rescue. Vinny and his fiancee, Mona Lisa (Marisa Tomei), street-savvy "declasse" Italians from the big city, arrive to take on the town's earnest legal establishment and the serious circumstantial evidence against the young men. It's a ferocious battle between Eastern street smarts and Southern propriety. The two cultures meet head on with both boys' freedom at stake.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Vinny is a role tailor-made for Joe Pesci. He relishes the part, and makes a meal of every courtroom speech and every close encounter with the soul of Alabama. Marisa Tomei won an Oscar for her portrayal of Mona Lisa Vito, and she lights up the screen with her warm, overtly sensuous, yet wise performance. In what must be a first for a legal courtroom farce set in The South, the judge and the law enforcement officers are not played as buffoons or bigots, but honorable and out to administer justice.

There are some very funny moments, indelible characterizations, and memorable lines (no one will forget Vinny's description of America's "yoots."). The plot turns, however, are purposefully silly and far-fetched. Still, it's a delight to watch the two leads see beyond the circumstantial and use their well-hidden mental acuity to win over the hearts and minds of their opponents and the audience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about snap judgments. What are the filmmakers trying to say about first impressions and stereotyping? How did both Vinny and Mona Lisa belie their appearances?

  • How was the Southern sheriff unlike other typical movie depictions of small-town Southern sheriffs?

  • Do you think you were supposed to believe that this story could really happen? What are some of the clues that the filmmakers used to show that it was a fairy tale or farce and not to be taken seriously?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 13, 1992
DVD release date:July 25, 2000
Cast:Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Ralph Macchio
Director:Jonathan Lynn
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Comedy
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language

This review of My Cousin Vinny was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator Written byWaltCD August 5, 2013
 

Fantastic Movie with a bit of cuss words

This is a fantastic movie that can be watched over and over. I'm sad to see the rating here only 3 stars. Remembering this movie, I thought it was rated PG, but I see that due to the language, an R is necessary. Still, this is a movie that can be enjoyed by most all children 13 and over.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 11 year old Written byLauraJF February 5, 2011
 

OK for tweens, if they can handle the language

Although the language is crude, it's nothing my daughter hasn't heard elsewhere and she's old enough to know it's not acceptable to use even if she hears it. It's a very funny movie, one of my favorite comedies!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Parent of a 12 year old Written bycrankylibrarian January 3, 2014
 

Mean Streets goes to Mayberry

Culture clash has never been funnier than in this raucous tale of 2 bling wearing, gum chewing, leather sporting New Yorkers trying to rescue an unjustly accused young relative in rural Alabama. The language is pretty raw, as befits the characters, and there's a murder at the beginning, and a little sex talk, but nothing graphic. Great story about seeing beyond appearances and stereotypes.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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