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Critics' Picks

'My Cousin Vinny'

April 11, 1993|Peter Rainer

Given the temptations to goof it up, Joe Pesci's performance in this 1992 movie, itself a very mixed bag, is something of a triumph. As 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. With its predictable city-slicker vs. Southern-cracker shenanigans, the film takes off when Vinny shows up in Georgia to defend his cousin and his friend in a mistaken-identity case. As Vinny's girlfriend, Marisa Tomei won this year's Oscar for best supporting actress for her portrayal of this svelte sharpie who commandeers the screen whenever she's around.

(HBO Saturday at 8 p.m.)

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