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A Case For ‘My Cousin Vinny’ as the Best Joe Pesci Role

In honor of Joe Pesci’s birthday, we make a case for My Cousin Vinny’s Vincent Gambini as the best character that he has ever played.

Joe Pesci My Cousin Vinny
Photo: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORP/PHOTOFEST

Joe Pesci is an iconic actor who would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer should such a thing exist in the acting world. Well, I suppose it does exist and he is enshrined with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Either way, Pesci has played some iconic roles over the years. That led me to think, which is his best one? I kept coming back to Vincent Gambini in My Cousin Vinny. As such, the two sides of my brain went to battle over that very question.

Opening Statements – A Case For Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny

Usually, in a civil case (I ain’t interested in any ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ mess) the plaintiff goes first. Not today, my friends.

Defense

While the role of Vinny Gambini in My Cousin Vinny is iconic, one simply cannot call it the “best.” Joe Pesci has played many great characters over the years, and our argument will show that.

Sometimes the movie quote says it better than we ever could:

Everything that guy just said was bullshit. Thank you.

Plaintiff

Direct

Defense

To pigeonhole Joe Pesci is a fool’s errand. The man has played countless roles to perfection. Heck, he was filming Goodfellas and Home Alone at the same time. From 1989 to 1992 he released two Home Alones, two Lethal Weapons, JFKGoodfellas, and My Cousin Vinny. We are talking about only three years here. An Oscar for Goodfellas to boot.

Cross

Plaintiff

Joe Pesci has played an impressive number of knockout roles, of that there is no question. What he achieved in My Cousin Vinny was a culmination of all his best parts. Vinny was wise, he was insightful, and he was street smart. But Vinny could also keep himself in check (for the most part). Whether you are deep in the archives with Family Enforcer or more up to date, Pesci’s characters have a fatal flaw, overconfidence. Vinny took all those negatives and threw them out the door. He was motivated to get the job done and willing to do whatever it took.

Closing Statements

Defense

Given the dynamic roles Joe Pesci has played, it seems clear that no one in their right mind could declare a “best” role for Joe Pesci. My apologies for wasting the court’s time.

Plaintiff

Joe Pesci is one of the greatest actors of all time. That’s not conjecture, it’s pure facts. But one other thing is abundantly clear. In My Cousin Vinny, he took it to another level. He combined the comedy of Home Alone with the ferocity of Goodfellas. Simultaneously crushing two of the best roles ever is cool and tough.

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Schwartzy is a DILF and (participation) trophy husband. More Splenda Daddy than Sugar. I do the twitter, hit me up! @drschwa_96

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