The Hulu R-Rated Comedy That Put A Marvel Star On The Map

By Robert Scucci | Published

my cousin vinny

Long before Marisa Tomei took on the recurring role of Peter Parker’s Aunt May in the MCU, she starred alongside Joe Pesci in a little film called My Cousin Vinny. Tomei’s performance in this courtroom comedy put her career on the map, and her verbal gun-slinging from the witness stand is legendary to say the least. If you’re a fan of Law & Order but need a light-hearted change of pace in your crime procedurals, then My Cousin Vinny is the perfect film for you because it boasts all of the expected beats without ever pumping the brakes on the laughs. 

Two Innocent Men In Trouble

My Cousin Vinny

Set primarily in Alabama, My Cousin Vinny introduces us to Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield). Bill and Stan get arrested after visiting a convenience store because the clerk is robbed and murdered shortly after they pass through, and their vehicle matches the description of the getaway car. Unable to afford a lawyer, Bill reaches out to his cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci), who arrives shortly thereafter with his fiancée, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei). 

Vinny Doesn’t Blend

My Cousin Vinny

The primary source of humor in My Cousin Vinny involves the Goodfella himself, Vinny, who’s newly appointed to the bar. Working primarily as a personal injury lawyer (read: ambulance chaser), Vinny immediately butts heads with the prosecuting attorney and the judge presiding over the case, Judge Chamberlain Haller (Fred Gwynne). Not only does Vinny have no courtroom experience, his abrasive personality causes quite a bit of trouble.

Marisa Tomei Shines

My Cousin Vinny

Courtroom bickering aside, My Cousin Vinny is a classic fish-out-of-water story. Placing two loud and animated New Yorkers in the Deep South makes for inherently great comedy. And this is where Marisa Tomei truly showcases her talent because her ability to consistently put Vinny in his place while functioning as an expert witness drives the story along with an unthinkable amount of laughs per minute. 

Vinny Becomes A Hero

My Cousin Vinny

Despite Vinny’s inexperience and willingness to push everyone’s buttons, his attention to the minor details makes him exactly the kind of lawyer you’d want in your corner. While the first and second acts of My Cousin Vinny highlight Vinny’s incompetence, he eventually sees the light and learns how to compose himself long enough to cross-examine the prosecuting attorney’s witnesses with Mona Lisa’s help. 

A Resounding Success

My Cousin Vinny wended up earning more than initially anticipated upon its release. Against its budget of $11 million, this crime comedy earned a total of $64.1 million. For Marisa Tomei’s portrayal of the bold and brash Mona Lisa Vito, she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

For its sharp script and fresh take on the crime procedural genre, My Cousin Vinny was a critical hit, garnering an 87 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the recurring themes among the many positive reviews is how accurately the film depicts courtroom procedures and trial strategies. Director Jonathan Lynn’s law degree did not go to waste while helming My Cousin Vinny, and his instinct allows the viewer to enjoy the show without suspending too much disbelief in this context. 

Stream It Now!

My Cousin Vinny is a timeless classic that still holds up to this day. If you want to see Marisa Tomei in one of her best early roles, all you need to do is fire up Hulu and give it a go. 

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