My Cousin Vinny in the Wall Street Journal
Unfortunately the WSJ has tightened its paywall and I can’t figure out how to break it via a desktop web browser, however it you are able to read the article it’s a great read.
80% of lawyers say their favorite law-related movie is My Cousin Vinny, which celebrates its 25th anniversary today. That’s my pick as well, and I have positively mentioned it a few times before. The reason I like it is because it’s the only trial movie that actually resembles a real criminal trial. Vinny cross-examines his witnesses the way a real defense attorney would do it. Nearly all other movies depicting legal actions are complete BS and consequently I find them unwatchable.
It turns out that it’s not an accident:
Director Mr. Lynn studied law at Cambridge and was “determined not to have anything in the movie that was legally incorrect,” assuming accuracy would be funnier.
“Vinny” screenwriter Dale Launer isn’t a lawyer but did his homework. He interviewed cops from Yazoo County, Miss., and a deputy attorney from Butler, Ala. on whom the movies competitive-but-collegial prosecutor was modeled.
Indeed, the way that prosecutor is collegial with the defense attorney outside of the courtroom is how it is in the real world.
I wish I could say that this proves that more successful movies can be made if only the director and screenwriter would do their homework, but the reality is that outside of the legal profession it was only a middling success. The crappy movie A Few Good Men, where the legal stuff is completely bogus and ridiculous, had a worldwide gross almost four times as high as “Vinny,” and ditto with the crappy movie Erin Brockovich.