My Cousin Vinny

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
My Cousin Vinny Movie Poster Image
Courtroom comedy will appeal to teens. Some strong language.
  • R
  • 1992
  • 120 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

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 accuse...
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...
Kid, 11 years old November 23, 2014

Very good, very funny, some strong language

I watched this movie a little under a year ago, and it was the first R-rated movie I'd ever seen. If your kid knows not to use the language, then it is hil...
Kid, 9 years old August 16, 2015

Flawless Courtroom Comedy With Some Mature Content

Firstly, the acting is flawless, and the jokes are hilarious. I cannot emphasize enough how great this movie is. But, sadly, this movie is not for everyone. The...

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love comedy

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