*this article contains spoilers.*
On March 13, 1992, one of the most classic films in cinematic history was released; My Cousin Vinny. Although I was born the following year, I grew up with this hilarious and well-written movie. I watched it so many times, I’ve lost count. I can quote scenes from the film expertly. And, whenever it’s playing on television, I have to watch it. After all, it is the greatest movie to exist, “dead-on balls accurate… it’s an industry term.”
So, of course, I was young when I first saw My Cousin Vinny. I believe my family members were concerned with the profanity I was exposed to, but it didn’t affect me at all. I was too focused on and enthralled by Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) to notice. A character who will always remain iconic, for a multitude of reasons.
My Cousin Vinny is a comedy that opens with two young boys, Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield), as they travel through the state of Alabama. Billy and Stan stop to get food at a gas station, and Billy accidentally steals a can of tuna. Eventually, they’re pulled over by cops who inform them that the clerk who helped them was shot dead after they left. So, with a mix of bad luck, and being complete New Yorkers through and through, Bill and Stan are arrested for a murder they did not commit. Amid the panic and the charges of first-degree murder and accessory to murder, Bill is reminded of his lawyer cousin, Vinny (Joe Pesci). However, there is one twist. Vinny is a personal injury lawyer who has no experience in trials. He’s only kind of a lawyer. Regardless, Vinny travels to Alabama from Brooklyn, New York with Mona Lisa Vito, his fiancée. It’s time he defends his young cousin.
Many believe that Vinny is the infamous, shining star in My Cousin Vinny, but it’s really and truly Mona Lisa. The first reason why Mona Lisa is so iconic and will remain iconic is because of her ability to use her voice. This voice is powerful, clear, determined, sometimes filled with profanity, and intelligent. Most importantly, this voice belongs to a woman. Mona Lisa speaks her mind whether that’s protecting deer, talking about her biological clock, or telling people, especially men, that they’re wrong.
It’s evident that Mona Lisa wants to get married and have children. She declares this to Vinny in an impassioned speech. However, what makes her so iconic is the fact that Mona will not let marital status or children define her. She will always be more than simply a wife and mother. This prediction is accurate through Mona Lisa’s love for cars. Mona has worked in her father’s garage since childhood, a profession typically reserved for men, and only men. She’s also an expert in general automotive knowledge; again, an expertise typically reserved for men. All in all, Mona Lisa illustrates that women can be wives and mothers while also being badass, intelligent, and passionate women in male dominated professions.
Mona Lisa will always remain iconic because of her amazing fashion sense and quick-witted sass. In a sea of Southern folk, Mona refuses to blend. She confidently wears her colorful, loud, beautiful clothes that certainly confirms she’s a New Yorker. She’s uniquely herself, no apologies, and we love it. In addition, her sass and quick replies are the best scenes in My Cousin Vinny. Whenever Vinny attempts to criticize Mona Lisa, or he acts like a know-it-all, Mona is there to put him in his place. Needless to say, Mona continuously destroys male egos throughout the film… the power she holds.
Next, Mona Lisa is iconic because although Vinny is supposed to be the “lawyer,” Mona is the one who can read and comprehend legal jargon. The brilliance. Her mind. She reads Vinny’s lawyer book, explains disclosure to him, and gives him the proper advice. Without Mona Lisa, Vinny would certainly be lost.
Mona Lisa will always remain iconic because of her visible confidence in the courtroom filled with men. Vinny calls Mona to the stand to testify as an expert witness. After all, Mona has an encyclopedic knowledge of automobiles. She utilizes this knowledge to help Vinny prove that Billy and Stan are innocent. Additionally, Mona silences all the men in the courtroom. No one can dispute her testimony or shake her confidence. Mona Lisa’s confidence in herself and her expertise is astounding.
Overall, Mona Lisa Vito is the heroine in My Cousin Vinny. She’s intelligent, fierce, sassy, confident, and she will always remain iconic.