Tag Archives: Jonathan Lynn

My Cousin Vinny (1992) Review

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My Cousin Vinny

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini
Ralph Macchio as Bill Gambini
Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito
Mitchell Whitfield as Stan Rothenstein
Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain Haller
Director: Jonathan Lynn

Vinny, an inexperienced lawyer, steps in to defend his cousin Billy and his friend Stan in his first ever trial after they are accused of murdering a convenience store owner.

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I heard about My Cousin Vinny for some time, from what I knew about it, it’s a comedy involving law and has Joe Pesci in the lead role. I become much more interested in checking it out after watching and loving Clue and learning that director Jonathan Lynn also made this film. I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

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One thing that I will admit is that the first act is a little clunky. Even within this movie, some of the characters are a little too stupid even for this movie. The humour was also hit or miss, especially with the instances of characters misunderstanding another people (this happens at least twice). Its also more than a bit frustrating to see Vinny (Joe Pesci) fail as a lawyer on a rather cartoonish level. However, at around the halfway point, Vinny suddenly becomes good at being a lawyer, and that’s when it really picks up. This change is very abrupt and sudden but that aside, if you find the movie hard to get through in the first half, just hold out until you get to that point. Overall, it is a very funny movie; while some of the early act jokes are pretty hit or miss, the rest of the jokes land. There are nice little gags throughout which occur plenty of times and actually have a payoff. There are even little details or moments that actually have relevance to the plot later on, like the preparation of grits and Marisa Tomei’s knowledge of automobiles. As for the plot itself, the premise is a bit convenient and the plot doesn’t matter as much, it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nonetheless it is well crafted, and the trial is decent. One of the things I heard going into this movie is that according to many lawyers, this is one of the more accurate representations of the law. It’s has a funny but also smart and clever script which has an accurate portrayal of courtroom procedure, while having fun with the situations.

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This movie wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without its cast. The characters are larger than life and some of the conversations and exchanges are ridiculous, but they play it so straight that it works and is funnier. Joe Pesci is great and funny as Vinny, the inexperienced lawyer who has to defend his cousin and his friend from death row. It plays to Pesci’s strengths, while also being against type. Marisa Tomei was a scene stealer as Vinny’s girlfriend, and she plays her role perfectly. She particularly gets a monologue towards the end of the movie which was the standout scene from the movie. She also received an Oscar win for this, and it was well deserved. Pesci and Tomei are a great on-screen duo, their chemistry is great, and they play off each other very well, funny yet believable. The supporting cast are all good, including Fred Gwynne, Bruce McGill, Austin Pendleton and more. If there are any weak links, I’d say that Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield as the accused are rather boring in comparison to everyone else. However, that sort of works in favour of the movie since there’s already so many strong and memorable characters.

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My Cousin Vinny may struggle a little in the first half (particularly in the first act), but it picks up and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable movie. A smart and funny courtroom comedy, well written and helped by its memorable cast and characters, with Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei being the standouts. Definitely worth watching.

Clue (1985) Review

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Clue

Time: 94 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Peacock
Tim Curry as Wadsworth
Madeline Kahn as Mrs. White
Christopher Lloyd as Professor Plum
Michael McKean as Mr. Green
Martin Mull as Colonel Mustard
Lesley Ann Warren as Miss Scarlet
Director: Jonathan Lynn

Six blackmail victims are invited to an isolated mansion by a man who knows a dark secret from each of their pasts. On arrival, each is given a pseudonym drawn from Cluedo before being introduced to the blackmailer. Each is handed a weapon, at which point the lights are switched off and the blackmailer is killed. Can the guests uncover the murderer before they all become victims?

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I went into Clue fairly unsure of what to expect. All I heard was just that it was a whodunnit comedy based on the board game of the same name, and that it had something of a following. It ended up being one of the biggest surprises I had watching a movie.

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A movie based on the board game Clue seems like a weird choice, because at that point it would pretty much just be a Clue themed whodunnit film, which it is. It takes the basic premise of the board game and goes wild with it, finding clever ways of linking details of the game into the movie including the prominent rooms and possible murder weapons. The plot is actually clever and well thought out, so while its not one of the best whodunnits of all time, its crafted decently. The dialogue is witty, sharp and quotable and it’s a hilarious movie, mixing 80s cheese with dark comedy and slapstick to great effect. The jokes almost always hit for me and there are plenty of details that I missed from my initial viewing; I think that it’ll be a fun movie to rewatch. particularly with people who haven’t seen it before. Something worth noting is that there are three separate endings, and when it was released in cinemas, whichever ending each screening received was completely random. However, most versions of the movie nowadays have all three endings and I like it for that. Clue is just over 90 minutes and they move at a fast pace, I had a lot of fun from beginning to end with never a dull moment.

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The characters are all distinguishable and memorable, helped by the performances. The main cast with Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren along the supporting cast are all great. This ensemble cast is fun to watch together, playing off each other well and having their own little ticks that make them unique. They all get their moments to shine but my personal favourite of the actors unsurprisingly is Tim Curry, who particularly stands out in the third act during the final reveals.

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Jonathan Lynn’s direction is simple yet quite good and effective. The production values are strong, I liked the murder mystery party atmosphere and the spooky mansion. The editing and visuals for comedy is particularly done well.

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All things considering, Clue was way better than it had any right to be. It’s hilarious, the cast are fantastic, it’s very well made, and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. It’s already become one of my favourite comedies and films, and one that I want to revisit multiple times over. I highly recommend watching it, especially if you go into it knowing as little as possible about it.