My Cousin Vinny (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jonathan Lynn
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 119 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 3.0 English, French; 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.99
Release Date: August 4, 2009
Review Date: August 4, 2009
Jonathan Lynn’s fish-out-of-water comedy My Cousin Vinny has verve and sass to spare. With a top-notch cast of players and some crisp writing (only occasionally mired down with tastelessness), My Cousin Vinny is a sure cure for what ails you. What a pleasure to welcome it to the ranks of high definition releases!
Friends Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield) find themselves arrested and accused of murdering a convenience store clerk in a sleepy little town in Alabama. Not having the money to hire an expensive trial attorney, Bill enlists the aid of his cousin Vincent LaGuardia Gambino (Joe Pesci) who’s just passed his bar exam after six tries and has been working as an attorney for a little more than five weeks. With demonstrative girl friend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) in tow, Vinny finds the ins and outs of his first court case baffling as he must quickly learn some tricks of the trade if he’s to save his cousin and his friend from a certain conviction.
An underdog lawyer fighting an uphill battle to save his innocent client from a hostile courtroom proceeding is hardly a new movie story, but scripter Dale Launer has put some delightful spins to the hoary plotline and juiced it up considerably. Launer seems fond of running gags, and there are several in the movie: Vinny’s standoff against a redneck pool chiseler, Vinny and Lisa’s being awakened extra early every morning by a progression of country noises despite his best efforts to escape them, and Vinny and Lisa’s continual little spats about everything from a dripping faucet and going hunting to that ever-ticking biological clock impinging on their eventual wedding. And, of course, Lisa saves the day for her fiancé in a number of ways as the film reaches its climax, offering co-star Marisa Tomei a wonderful scene in the witness box that likely cemented her winning the Oscar for this performance. Director Jonathan Lynn stages most of the film rather mundanely though he occasionally spices things up a bit with odd angled shots taken from some unusual positions.
All of the playing in the film is just splendid. Joe Pesci brings his “goomba” Brooklyn-Italian tough to a comedy with marvelous results. Marisa Tomei matches him every step of the way with a delightful performance of much vivacity and allure despite her character’s tendency to bray her feelings at inopportune moments. Neither Ralph Macchio nor Mitchell Whitfield have particularly well-defined characters to play, so the fact they sustain audience sympathy is in large part due to their excellent performances. Fred Gwynne steals the show as Judge Chamberlain Haller while smarmy district attorney Jim Trotter III is putty in the hands of Lane Smith. Austin Pendleton is the one sour apple in the barrel as the stuttering public defender John Gibbons. Neither the character nor the actor’s performance is worthy of the rest of the film.
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color for much of the film seems just a tad on the pale side though later scenes seem to sport much stronger hues. Contrast seems a bit off, too, in certain shots, but the sharpness of the image is always winning. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has surprising envelopment for a comedy with some impressive pans across the soundstage and expert channeling of Randy Edelman’s score through the front and rear channels. There are no instances of hiss, pops, crackle, or flutter to interrupt the audio experience offered here.
Director Jonathan Lynn provides a very laidback audio commentary. It’s a start and stop affair as the director speaks in a very low key manner about the experiences of making the film. Be prepared for some frequent pauses in the commentary.
There are two theatrical trailers available for viewing. One runs 2 minutes while the other runs 1 ½ minutes. Both are presented in 480i.
There are two TV spots available for viewing, each running ½-minute and each in 480i.
3.5/5 (not an average)
Though bonuses are sparse (the Blu-ray is a single layer disc), My Cousin Vinny comes to high definition with an excellent sound and picture presentation and is a film I can heartily recommend.