My Cousin Vinny


My Cousin Vinny

Written by 
Dale Launer

Director Jonathan Lynn
Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa Tomei, Mitchell Whitfield, Fred Gwynne

Category    Law Issues,Recruitment Methods& Tools,Talent Management,Training& Development,Women      


20th Century Fox



Language English
120 min

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Mainly a story about using the American legal system correctly, the comedy "My Cousin Vinny" (directed by Jonathan Lynn in 1992) is also about knowing how to use your contacts to your advantage (human resourcefulness).

However, the reason I mostly wanted to write about this film is the scene where the lead character, Vinny (played by Joe Pesci) puts his fiancé Mona Lisa (portrayed by Marisa Tomei who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the film), a hairdresser, to the stand, asking her to testify in a legal case that could jeopardise putting two innocent kids in prison. This scene alone is testimony to how many biases and misconceptions we all hold and unless we search properly, probe, investigate and assess competencies thoroughly, keeping an open mind and not jump to conclusions, we often misjudge people’s knowledge, skills, competencies and experiences, having preconceptions about them.

The plot of the film is formed around two young men who are wrongfully accused of a murder, simply for having been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The cousin of one of them, Vinny, is a personal injury lawyer, newly admitted to the bar (after six attempts and six years) with no trial experience.

After a number of serious mistakes that seem to be heading towards the conviction of the two young men, Vinny asks his “clients” for a second chance to support their case.

He finally manages to make up for his inexperience and ignorance of courtroom etiquette with a perceptive questioning style and analytical technique. He effectively cross examines key eye witnesses managing to discredit their account of events showing us that more often than we think perception is reality. But that reality isn’t always the truth / facts.

Vinny also realises that Lisa’s knowledge of car mechanics (due to her family’s background) can be used to the advantage of the case and he brings her to the stand. Everyone in the courtroom jumps to the conclusion that a hairdresser could not possibly be an expert in cars but Mona Lisa proves them wrong. As Mona Lisa is questioned in court it starts to become obvious that her knowledge of cars is of expert level, proving everyone that prejudging by someone’s appearance, professional background or gender can lead to wrong assumptions.

It is also her testimony that is the clue leading the murder charges against the two young men to be dropped.

This is why in assessing someone’s potential (either for recruitment or development purposes) it is crucial that we scratch beyond the surface and examine carefully the person’s abilities by asking the right questions without bias and without making any assumptions.

Contributed by: Kiki Kallis