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Two teenage boys from New York are travelling down south when a series of coincidences lands them in jail charged with first degree murder. One of their cousins, an inexperienced, loudmouth lawyer not accustomed to Southern rules and manners, comes in to defend them.
With such canny scene-stealers as Gwynne, Smith, Pendleton, McGill and Chaykin filling out the cast, it is very hard for My Cousin Vinny to go wrong, and indeed, for the purpose of pleasant Saturday night entertainment, it does not.
For all of its grossly stereotypical characterizations and cheap laughs, My Cousin Vinny does benefit from Pesci's characteristically energetic performance. And co-star Tomei looks very nice in a clinging blue dress with gold lame applique.
As Vincent Gambini, a swaggering pint-sized New York lawyer who only recently passed the bar on his sixth try, Pesci modulates his usual psycho-nuttiness and gives it some recognizably human, even melancholy, undertones.