An Overlooked Joe Pesci Movie Is Finding New Life On Streaming

By James Brizuela | 2 weeks ago

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Joe Pesci is most known for his portrayal of mobsters in films like Casino and Goodfellas. However, Pesci has also been known to showcase his comedy skills in the Lethal Weapon franchise and Harry in the Home Alone movies. He has also starred in an often-overlooked comedy that has begun to do fantastic streaming numbers on HBO Max. That film is My Cousin Vinny. My Cousin Vinny follows the trial of two men accused of murder, Stan Rothenstein and Billy Gambini (Ralph Macchio). Billy’s cousin, Vinny, comes to his aid as the family “lawyer.” Only his lawyering skills are not what they are cracked up to be and what results is a hilarious trial and happenstance that cause Vinny to get into plenty of trouble.

My Cousin Vinny is easily one of the funniest films out there, and for those who are not familiar, Joe Pesci expertly plays Vinny Gambini. Through the exposition of the film, we find out that Vinny has only worked in personal injury, and has not gone to trial ever in his short stint as a lawyer. He also has failed the BAR exam five times. All of this leads to the crucial moment that Billy and Stan hire Vinny as their lawyer, but soon find out that he is highly inexperienced. Billy and Stan are being accused of murder, and Vinny soon joins them in jail after making the judge mad. Pesci plays the same New Yorker-type that he often does in films, but this time he is out of his element in the deep Southern state of Alabama.

One of the funniest moments in the film comes with Vinny’s pronunciation of “youths.” He refers to them as “yutes” making the judge and everyone in the courtroom wonder what it is he is trying to say. The entire movie is filled with great dialogue and the horrible situations in which Vinny finds himself. From loud sirens in the mornings, the experience of trying grits, and having to wear a circus performing suit to court, it’s just a very well-written film. It is no shock that My Cousin Vinny has cracked the top 15 in streaming on HBO Max. It’s an older-style comedy, but there is a ton of quick wit and hilarious misunderstandings that make this one of the best and lesser-known Joe Pesci films.

My Cousin Vinny currently holds a certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 86%. The audience score of 87% is also high. The film came out in 1992 and likely got lost in the plethora of Pesci films that were highly popular around that time. Goodfellas, Lethal Weapon 3, and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York all came out within two years of another. To say Joe Pesci was busy at that time is putting it lightly. However, My Cousin Vinny was a great success that garnered even more appeal as an “underground” comedy. Even though it was highly unlikely for comedy films to win Academy Awards, Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mona Lisa Vito, Vinny’s girlfriend.

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The budget for My Cousin Vinny was $11 million, but it held great domestic success by amassing nearly $53 million in the US alone. The international box office numbers were $11 million, pushing the total box office numbers to a total of $64 million. Those are some highly successful numbers for any film, especially considering this was a comedy. However, again, Joe Pesci was still known to make droves of people laugh. With it currently streaming on HBO Max, it is likely making even more money depending on how much each film earns with views through streaming platforms.

My Cousin Vinny stands alone as one of the films that bridge the gap between the tough-talking gangster roles in which Joe Pesci usually shines in, but also adding in the hilarity of being a “fish out of water.” Fans of Pesci would do well to check the film out on HBO Max, while it’s here. See why Marisa Tomei won an Academy Award and why it is currently garnering plenty of streaming numbers. Pesci is masterfully funny in this film and the dialogue makes the overall experience that much better. Think about the Judd Apatow style, before there was a Judd Apatow style.