‘My Cousin Vinny’ Educates and Delights Audiences 25 Years Later

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From “yutes” to grits, “My Cousin Vinny” still has a special place among comedy fans and the legal community.

Next year will be the 25th anniversary of “My Cousin Vinny.”  Not only is it known for its amazing performances by Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, and Marisa Tomei (who won an Oscar for her performance) but it is considered one of the best courtroom movies of all time.  In fact, the legal process is so well written and portrayed, legal experts from around the world still use it as an example for their students and clients.

Mona Lisa Vito: What?

Vinny Gambini: Nothing. You stick out like a sore thumb around here.

Mona Lisa Vito: Me? What about you?

Vinny Gambini: I fit in better than you. At least I’m wearing cowboy boots.

Mona Lisa Vito: Oh yeah, you blend.

For example, Professor Alberto Bernabe of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago recommends his students watch My Cousin Vinny, calling a form of “legal education.”  He says that after watching it, he and his students can use the movie to discuss criminal procedure, courtroom decorum, professional responsibility, unethical behavior, the role of the judge in a trial, efficient cross-examination, the role of expert witnesses, the role of court reporters, and effective trial advocacy.

Official My Cousin Vinny Trailer


Although the movie is a comedy, its serious tone and accurate portrayal of a real court room provides many examples of court procedures that may not be taught in actual law school classes.

My_Cousin_Vinny_9140_MediumProfessors and students are not the only ones who use “My Cousin Vinny” as a prime example of a court case.  In 2006, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia brought up the movie as the court was discussing a case in which a drug dealer was denied his choice of a lawyer.  When his first choice was denied by a Missouri court, the accused was instead assigned a less-experienced local lawyer was eventually convicted.  As the Justices were arguing, Justice Samuel Alito mentioned that lawyers who specialize in fields other than criminal defense are often asked to represent their family members, to which Justice Scalia joked, “What about the real case of My Uncle Vinny?”

Considering that “My Cousin Vinny” director Jonathan Lynn studied law at Cambridge University, it comes as no surprise that the movie has a reputation for portraying a court case so realistically, even down to details like court reporters.  And while the movie has charmed and educated audience for the last 24 years, it would no surprise if it continues to do so in the future.

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