My Cousin Vinny

1992 film directed by Jonathan Lynn

My Cousin Vinny is a 1992 film about a street-smart but inexperienced lawyer from Brooklyn defending his cousin in a murder case in Alabama.

Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Written by Dale Launer.
A Comedy of Trial and Error Taglines


Lisa: What?
Vinny: Nothin’, you stick out like a sore thumb around here.
Lisa: Me? What about you?
Vinny: I fit in better than you. At least I'm wearin’ cowboy boots.
Lisa: Oh, yeah, you blend.

[Stan is under the impression that another prisoner will come to offer his protection in exchange for sexual favors]
Guard: Here. Got somebody for you. [Vinny slips guard a 'tip', and enters the cell]
Vinny: You must be Stan, how ya doin’?
Stan: Why'd they bring you in here?
Vinny: Well, I just got in. I asked where the new guys were, and they brought me here. Hey, sleepin’, huh? Cute little guy. Y’know, maybe I should start wit you. Let him sleep a little bit.
Stan: I don't wanna do this.
Vinny: Hey, I don't blame ya. If I was in your situation, I'd wanna get through this whole thing as quickly, and with as little pain as possible. So, y’know, let's try our best to make this a simple, in-and-out procedure. [Stan nervously moves away from Vinny] What's the matter? Hey, relax, relax. Y’know, maybe we should spend a couple minutes together. Y’know, to get acquainted before we uh, y’know, before we get to it. What's wrong with you?
Stan: I don't wanna do this.
Vinny: I understand, but y’know, what are your alternatives?
Stan: My alternatives? To what, to you? I don't know, suicide, death...
Vinny: Look, it's either me or them. You're gettin’ fucked one way or the other. (Stan tries to get up, but Vinny stops him) Hey, lighten up. Don't worry, I'm gonna help you.
Stan: [sarcastically] Gee, thanks.
Vinny: Excuse me, but I think a modicum of gratitude would not be outta line here.
Stan: You think I should be grateful?
Vinny: Yeah, I mean it's your ass, not mine. I think you should be grateful. I think you should be down on your fuckin’ knees!
Stan: I'm sorry. I didn't know it was such an honor to get a visit from you.
Vinny: Hey, I'm doin’ a favor here, y’know. You're gettin’ me for nothin’, you little fuck.
Stan: Boy, that's one hell of an ego you got.
Vinny: What the fuck is your problem? I did not come down here just to get jerked off.
Stan: No. No, no. I'm not jerking you off. I'm not doing anything.
Vinny: That's it. You're on your own. I'm just takin’ care of Sleepin’ Beauty.
[Wakes up Bill, who gets startled]
Bill: Hey, back off! Vin! Vinny!
Stan: [somewhat confused] Vinny?
Bill: Vinny bag o' donuts. How are you?
Stan: This is Vinny?

Vinny: Is that a drip I hear?
Lisa: Yeah.
Vinny: Weren't you the last one to use the bathroom?
Lisa: So?
Vinny: Well, did you use the faucet?
Lisa: Yeah.
Vinny: Why didn't you turn it off?
Lisa: I did turn it off.
Vinny: Well, if you turned it off, why am I listening to it?
Lisa: Did it ever occur to you that it could be turned off and drip at the same time?
Vinny: No, because if you turned it off, it wouldn't drip.
Lisa: Maybe it's broken.
Vinny: Is that what you're sayin’? It's broken?
Lisa: Yeah, that's it; it's broken.
Vinny: You sure?
Lisa: I'm positive.
Vinny: Maybe you didn't twist it hard enough.
Lisa: I twisted it just right.
Vinny: How can you be so sure?
Lisa: If you will look in the manual, you will see that this particular model faucet requires a range of 10-16 foot pounds of torque. I routinely twist the maximum allowable torquage.
Vinny: How can you be sure you used 16 foot pounds of torque?
Lisa: Because I used a Craftsman model 1019 Laboratory edition, signature series torque wrench. The kind used by Cal Tech High Energy physicists, and NASA engineers.
Vinny: In that case, how can you be sure that's accurate?
Lisa: Because a split second before the torque wrench was applied to the faucet handle, it had been calibrated by top members of the state and federal Departments of Weights and Measures, to be dead-on balls accurate. Here's the certificate of validation. (Rips a page out of a magazine)
Vinny: "Dead-on balls accurate"?
Lisa: It's an industry term.
Vinny: I guess the fuckin’ thing is broken.

[Vinny thinks he's finessed Trotter into giving him all of his files relating to the case]
Lisa: Don't you wanna know why Trotter gave you his files?
Vinny: I told you why already.
Lisa: He has to, by law! You're entitled! It's called "disclosure", ya dickhead! He has to show ya everything, otherwise, it could be a mistrial! He has to give you a list of all of his witnesses, you can talk to all of his witnesses, he's not allowed any surprises! [Vinny is speechless; Lisa has her hands on her hips] They didn't teach you that in law school either?

Vinny: My clients were caught completely by surprise. They thought they were gettin’ arrested for, uh, shopliftin’ a can of tuna.
Judge Haller: What are you tellin’ me? That they plead not guilty?
Vinny: No. I'm just tryin’ t’explain.
Judge Haller: I don't wanna hear explanations. The state of Alabama has a procedure. And that procedure is to have an arraignment. Are we clear on this?
Vinny: Yes, but there seems to be a great deal of confusion here. You see, my clients--
Judge Haller: Uh, Mr. Gambini? [motions for him to approach the bench] All I ask from you is a very simple answer to a very simple question. There are only two ways to answer it: guilty or not guilty.
Vinny: But your honor, my clients didn't do anything.
Judge Haller: Once again, the communication process is broken down. It appears to me that you wanna skip the arraignment process, go directly to trial, skip that, and get a dismissal. Well, I'm not about to revamp the entire judicial process just because you find yourself in the unique position of defendin’ clients who say they didn't do it. The next words out of your mouth are either gonna be "guilty" or "not guilty." I don't wanna hear commentary, argument, or opinion. If I hear anything other than "guilty" or "not guilty", you'll be in contempt. I don't even wanna hear you clear your throat. Now, [enunciating] how... do... your... clients... plead?
Vinny: [enunciating, but the words go right past him] I think... I get... the point.
Judge Haller: No, I don't think you do. You're now in contempt of court. Would you like to go for two counts of contempt?
Vinny: Not guilty.
Judge Haller: Thank you.

[Stan, Vinny and Bill are on the prison bus]
Stan [to Vinny]: Why didn't you ask them any questions?!
Vinny: Questions? Ask who questions?
Bill: You knew you could ask questions, didn't you Vin?
Stan: Maybe if you put up some kind of a fight, you could have gotten the case thrown out!
Vinny: Hey, Stan. You're in Ala-fuckin’-bama. You come from New York. You killed a good ol’ boy. There is NO WAY this is not goin’ to trial.

Vinny: Look, maybe I could have handled the preliminary a little better, okay? I admit it. But what's most important is winnin’ the case. I could do it! I really could. Let me tell ya how, okay? The D.A.'s gotta build a case. Buildin’ a case is like buildin’ a house. Each piece of evidence is just another building block. He wants to make a brick bunker of a building. He wants to use serious, solid-lookin’ bricks, like, like these, right? [puts his hand on the wall]
Bill: Right.
Vinny: Let me show ya somethin’. [he holds up a playing card, the Ace of Spades, with the face toward Bill] He's gonna show you the bricks. He'll show ya they got straight sides. He'll show ya how they got the right shape. He'll show ‘em to ya in a very special way, so that they appear to have everything a brick should have. But there's one thing he's not gonna show ya. [turns the card, so that its edge is toward Bill.] When ya look at the bricks from the right angle, they're as thin as this playing card. His whole case is an illusion, a magic trick. It has to be an illusion, [Flips the card back over to show a Joker] 'cause you're innocent. Nobody, I mean nobody, pulls the wool over the eyes of a Gambini, especially this one. Give me a chance, one chance. Let me question the first witness. If after that point, you don't think that I'm the best man for the job, fire me then and there. I'll leave quietly, no grudges. All I ask is for that one chance. I think you should give it to me.

[Vinny has just slept through Trotter's opening statement and is asked to give his]
Vinny: Uh, everything that guy just said is bullshit. Thank you.
Jim Trotter: Objection, Your Honor, counsel's entire opening statement is argument.
Judge Haller: [to the jury] Objection sustained. Counsel's entire opening statement, with the exception of "thank you," will be stricken from the record.

Vinny: Is it possible that the two youts–
Judge Haller: Uh, the two what? Uh, uh, what was that word?
Vinny: Uh, what word?
Judge Haller: Two what?
Vinny: What?
Judge Haller: Did you say "yutes"?
Vinny: Yeah, two youts.
Judge Haller: What is a yute?
Vinny: Oh, excuse me, Your Honor, [enunciates] two youths.

[Vinny is cross-examining Tipton]
Vinny: Is it possible the two defendants...[Gives Haller a glance] entered the store, picked 22 specific items off of the shelves, had the clerk take money, make change, then leave... Then two different men drive up in a similar - [sees Tipton is already shaking his head] Don't shake ya head. I'm not done yet. Wait till you hear the whole thing so you can understand this now... [continues] Two different men drive up in a similar looking car, go in, shoot the clerk, rob him, and then leave?
Tipton: No. They didn't have enough time.
Vinny: Well, how much time was they in the store?
Tipton: Five minutes.
Vinny: Five minutes? Are you sure? Did you look at your watch?
Tipton: No.
Vinny: Oh, oh, oh, I'm sorry. You testified earlier that the boys went into the store, and you had just begun to make breakfast. You were just ready to eat, and you heard a gunshot. That's right. I'm sorry. So obviously, it takes you five minutes to make breakfast.
Tipton: That's right.
Vinny: So you knew that. Uh, do you remember what ya had?
Tipton: Eggs and grits.
Vinny: Eggs and grits. I like grits too. How do you like your grits? You like 'em regular, creamy or al dente?
Tipton: [confused by the question] Just regular, I guess.
Vinny: Regular. Instant grits?
Tipton: [chuckles] No self-respectin’ Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits.
Vinny: [Walks over to Jury, as he prepares his next question] So, Mr. Tipton. How could it take you five minutes to cook your grits, when it takes the entire grit-eating world twenty minutes?
[Tipton falls silent for a moment. Lisa smiles excitedly, and the entire courtroom stares at Tipton apprehensively, realizing he’s been stumped]
Tipton: [nervously] I dunno. I'm a fast cook, I guess.
Vinny: [Walks back over to Tipton] I'm sorry, I was all the way over here. I couldn't hear you. Did you just say you're a fast cook, that’s it!? Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit... faster in your kitchen... than on any place on the face of the Earth!?
Tipton: [faltering] I don't know.
Vinny: Well, perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove! Were these magic grits? I mean, did you buy them from the same guy who sold Jack his beanstalk beans!?
Jim Trotter: Objection, Your Honor.
Judge Haller: Objection sustained. You can ignore the question, Mr. Tipton.
Vinny: [advancing on Tipton] You sure about that five minutes?
Tipton: I don't know.
Vinny: Are you sure about that five minutes?
Tipton: I don't know!
Judge Haller: [banging his gavel] Mr. Gambini, I think you made your point.
Tipton: [embarrassed] I may have been mistaken.
Vinny: I got no more use for this guy.
[Haller looks shocked by the exchange, while Lisa gives Vinny a proud look, and someone in the public gallery applauds. Stan turns to John Gibbons, his public defender]
Stan: You're fired. [gets up and points at Vinny] I want him!

[Vinny is trying to dress properly for a hunting trip]
Vinny: What about these pants I got on? You think they're okay? Ho! [Lisa comes out of the bathroom]
Lisa: Imagine you're a deer. You're prancin’ along. You get thirsty. You spot a little brook. You put ya little deer lips down to the cool clear water...bam! A fuckin’ bullet rips off part of ya head! Your brains are layin’ on the ground in little bloody pieces! [Puts her hands on her hips] Now, I ask ya, would you give a fuck what kind of pants the son-of-a-bitch who shot you was wearing?!

[Vinny and Lisa walk into the pool hall; everyone stops what they’re doing. Vinny and Lisa take off their shades. Lisa looks around and spots J.T. J.T. recognizes Lisa and Lisa nudges Vinny with her elbow]

[Vinny and Lisa walk over to J.T.]

Vinny: Hey, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini--
Lisa: His name's J.T.
Vinny: J.T., I believe you and Lisa played a game of pool for two hundred dollars, which she won; I'm here to collect.
J.T.: How 'bout if I just kick your ass?
Vinny: Oh, a counteroffer. That's what we lawyers, I'm a lawyer, call that a counteroffer. Let me see, this is a tough decision you're givin’ me here. Get my ass kicked or collect two hundred dollars? Hmm, let me think. I could use a good ass kickin’, I'll be very honest with you. Nah, I think I'll just go with the two hundred.
[The patrons laugh]
J.T.: Over my dead body.
Vinny: You like to renegotiate as you go along, huh? Okay then, here's my counteroffer: do I have to kill you? What if I was just to kick the ever-lovin’ shit outta ya?
J.T.: In your dreams.
Vinny: Oh, no, no, no, in reality. If I was to kick the shit outta ya, do I get the money?
J.T.: [contemplates this] If you kick the shit outta me...
Vinny: Yeah.
J.T.: ...then you get the money.
[Some patrons weakly laugh. Vinny looks at a guy who's in a neck brace.]
Vinny: What happened? Rear-ended?
Neck Brace: No, I fell.
Vinny: Oh. Okay, let’s see if we agree on the terms. The choice now is: I get my ass kicked, or, option B: I kick your ass, and collect the 200. I'm goin’ wit option B, [takes his coat off] kickin’ your ass and collectin' two-hundred dollars.
J.T.: Are we gon’ fight now?
Vinny: Yeah, first let me see the money.
J.T.: I have the money.
Vinny: All right, show it to me.
J.T.: I can get it.
Vinny: You can get it? All right, get it. Then we'll fight.
Vinny: Did you fall in your place, or somebody else’s?
Neck Brace: My place.
Vinny: Shit.

[Lisa is nervously pacing back and forth on the deck of Trotter’s cabin]

Vinny: What's the matter with you?
Lisa: I don't know.
Vinny: You're actin’ like you're nervous or somethin’.
Lisa: Well, yeah, I am.
Vinny: What are you nervous about? I'm the one that's under the gun here. Trial starts tomorrow.
Lisa: You wanna know what I'm nervous about? I'll tell ya what I'm nervous about. I am in the dark here with all this legal crap. I have no idea what's goin’ on. Alls I know is that you're screwin’ up and I can't help.
Vinny: You left me a little camera, didn't you?
Lisa: Oh, Vinny! I'm watchin’ you go down in flames, and you're bringin’ me with you, and I can't do anything about it!
Vinny: And?
Lisa: Well, I hate to bring it up because I know you've got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get married as soon as you won your first case. Meanwhile, ten years later, my niece, the daughter of my sister is gettin’ married. My biological clock is [stamps foot three times] tickin’ like this, and the way this case is goin’, I ain't never gettin’ married!
Vinny: Lisa, I don't need this. I swear to God, I do not need this right now, okay? I've got a judge that's just achin’ to throw me in jail, an idiot who wants to fight me for two hundred dollars, slaughtered pigs, giant loud whistles. I ain't slept in five days. I got no money, a dress code problem, and a little murder case which, in the balance, holds the lives of two innocent kids, not to mention your [stamps foot three times] biological clock; my career, your life, our marriage, and let me see, what else can we pile on? Is there any more shit we can pile on to the top of the outcome of this case?! [Stares upward to indicate him thinking of anything else] Is it possible?! [looks up again]
Lisa: Maybe it was a bad time to bring it up.

Judge Haller: [Motioning to his chamber] Mr. Gambini, I’d like to speak to you in my chambers. [Walks into the chamber with Vinny behind him]
Judge Haller: You're a dead man.
Vinny: I'm a dead man?
Judge Haller: That's right. I just faxed the clerk of New York and asked him what he knew about Jerry Gallo and do you wanna know what he replied?
Vinny: Did you just say Gallo?
Judge Haller: Yes, I did.
Vinny: Gallo wit a G?
Judge Haller: That's right.
Vinny: Jerry Gallo's dead!
Judge Haller: [holds up fax] I'm aware of that!
Vinny: Well I'm not Jerry Gallo! I'm Jerry Callo! "C-A-LLO!"
Judge Haller: Alright. Let's get this cleared up right now. [picks up phone, dials] Hello. This is Judge Chamberlain Haller. Can I speak to the clerk? OK, I'll be here.
Judge Haller: [hangs up, returns to Vinny] He's gonna call back after 3. Which gives you a "stay of execution". Unless, by some miracle you happen to win this case in the next 90 minutes. Why don't you go to lunch?

Vinny: Ms. Vito, you're supposed to be some kinda expert in automobiles, is that correct? Is that correct?
[Lisa is purposely ignoring Vinny]
Judge Haller: Would you please answer the counselor's question?
Lisa: No, I hate him.
Vinny: Your Honor, may I ask your permission to treat Ms. Vito as a hostile witness?
Lisa: You think I'm hostile now? Wait till you see me tonight.
Judge Haller: Do you two know each other?
Vinny: Yeah, she's my fiancée.
Judge Haller: Well, that would certainly explain the hostility.

Vinny: What the hell was that all about back there?
Lisa: I had a friend send a fax to the judge, confirming the very impressive legal stature of Jerry Callo!
Vinny: What friends you got in the clerk’s office?
Lisa: Your friend.
Vinny: My friend?
Lisa: Judge Malloy.
[pause] So what's your problem?
Vinny: My problem is, I wanted to win my first case without any help from anybody.
Lisa: Well, I guess that plan's moot.
Vinny: Yeah.
Lisa: You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all ya cases, but with somebody else's help. Right? You win case, after case, - and then afterwards, you have to go up to somebody and you have to say- "thank you"! Oh my God, what a fuckin' nightmare!

Judge Haller: Mr. Gambini, didn't I tell you that the next time you appear in my court that you dress appropriately?
Vinny: You were serious about that?

[asking the hotel clerk about the freight train]
Vinny: Does that freight train come through here at 5:00 A.M. every morning?
Hotel Clerk: No, sir, it's very unusual.
Vinny: [the next day, after Vinny was awakened by the train] Yesterday you told me that freight train hardly ever comes through here at 5:00 A.M. in the morning.
Hotel Clerk: I know. She's supposed to come through at ten after 4:00.

Jim Trotter: Now, uh, Ms. Vito, bein’ an expert on general automotive knowledge, can you tell me... what would the correct ignition timing be on a 1955 Bel Air Chevrolet, with a 327 cubic-inch engine and a four-barrel carburetor?
Lisa: [scoffing] That's a bullshit question.
Jim Trotter: Does that mean that you can't answer it?
Lisa: It's a bullshit question, it's impossible to answer.
Jim Trotter: Impossible because you don't know the answer!
Lisa: Nobody could answer that question!
Jim Trotter: Your Honor, I move to disqualify Ms. Vito as an "expert witness"!
Judge Haller: Can you answer the question?
Lisa: No, it is a trick question!
Judge Haller: Why is it a trick question?
Vinny: [to Bill] Watch this.
Lisa: 'Cause Chevy didn't make a 327 in '55, the 327 didn't come out till '62. And it wasn't offered in the Bel Air with a four-barrel carb till '64. However, in 1964, the correct ignition timing would be four degrees before top-dead-center. [Vinny sits back, contently crossing his arms]
Jim Trotter: Well... um... she's acceptable, Your Honor.

Vinny: [Questioning Lisa] I find it hard to believe that this kind of information could be ascertained simply by looking at a picture!
Lisa: Would you like me to explain?
Vinny: I would love to hear this!
Judge Haller: ...So would I.
Lisa: The car that made these two equal-length tire marks had positraction. Can't make those marks without positraction, which was not available on the '64 Buick Skylark!
Vinny: And why not? What is positraction?
Lisa: It's a limited-slip differential which distributes power equally to both the right and left tires. The '64 Skylark had a regular differential, which anyone who's been stuck in the mud in Alabama knows, you step on the gas, one tire spins, the other tire does nothin’.
Juror: [Quietly] That's right.
Vinny: Is that it?
Lisa: No, there's more. [Shows on the picture] You see when the left tire mark goes up on the curb, and the right tire mark stays flat and even? Well, the '64 Skylark had a solid rear axle. So, when the left tire would go up on the curb, the right tire would tilt out and ride along its edge, but that didn't happen here, the tire mark stayed flat and even; this car had an independent rear suspension. Now, in the '60s, there were only two other cars made in America that had positraction and independent rear suspension, and enough power to make these marks: one was the Corvette, which could never be confused with the Buick Skylark. The other had the same body length, height, width, weight, wheelbase, and wheel track as the '64 Skylark, and that was the 1963 Pontiac Tempest.
Vinny: And because both cars were made by GM, were both cars available in metallic mint-green paint?
Lisa: [leans forward with her hands on the witness stand] They were!
Vinny: Thank you, Ms. Vito! No more questions. Thank you very very much. You've been a lovely [kisses her right hand] lovely [kisses her left hand] witness.


  • A Comedy of Trial and Error
  • There have been many courtroom dramas that have glorified The Great American Legal System. This is not one of them.


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