Why Mona Lisa Vito's Testimony Was Wrong In My Cousin Vinny

Toward the end of My Cousin Vinny, Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei's Mona Lisa Vito is called up to the stand by her fiancee, in order to debunk the theory that the getaway car used in a robbery belongs to his cousin. It's a landmark scene from the film, as she rattles off all sorts of car knowledge, with the coup de grace coming from the fact there were only two other cars besides the Buick Skylark in question that could have made the tracks submitted for evidence. Well, as it turns out, there were actually three other cars... and the film's writer has known about the film flub for quite some time.

As a celebration of My Cousin Vinny's 25th anniversary, The Wrap spoke with Dale Lautner, the writer of the film, who finally spilled the beans. While he attributes the knowledge base he did have for writing Mona Lisa's expertise to his own childhood obsession with automobiles, Lautner explains that even he wasn't exempt from mistakes, and that it was a friend who eventually called him out.

I thought, 'Well, no one's really going to know that.' I can think of one person I personally know who would know that. Oddly enough, I had not seen him since high school, and I saw him at the premiere. He said, 'You know, there were actually three cars with independent rear suspension.' There was no research whatsoever. That's what I would call misspent youth. When I was in high school, there was a time I could give you the weight, engine displacement, horsepower options and suspension description of every car sold in America.

While it certainly feels like one of those errors that anyone could make, there's one thing that makes My Cousin Vinny's landmark ending stick out in our minds now. While Mona Lisa Vito sounded extremely sure of herself during her testimony, there's no reason the prosecution that Vinny was working against couldn't have brought in an auto expert of his own. Instead, Jim Trotter III had his ass handed to him by a gambit that paid off, in a scene that still holds up. In fact, if you haven't seen it in awhile, you can give it a watch, below.

While this goof in My Cousin Vinny's legal challenge doesn't make us disown the film, it makes us wonder what other court films got it wrong. Did Elle Woods screw up along the way in the Legally Blonde series? Is Fletcher Reid's reasoning involving prenuptual agreements in Liar Liar really up to snuff? Honestly, if you can't trust the word of Mona Lisa Vito, who can you trust?

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.