By Peter Colaner
I’ve officially begun studying for the LSAT.
Having now jumped into the LSAT waters, I am sensing that it will be similar to navigating the Mariana Trench: filled with pressure, but when overcome, will open up depths within myself that I never knew I had.
Considering this is the beginning of my journey into law school, what better time to talk about some of my favorite legal movies?
No. 3: The Firm
One of my biggest weaknesses is my tendency to not watch movies all the way through. And I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to turn off “The Firm” after the first 10 minutes.
Like, why the heck would I want to watch a Harvard lawyer go to Memphis? Where even is that? Is that in America? I’m kidding, but seriously, I want to see the glitz, glam and gossip inside a New York City corporate law firm handling the most monumental cases that shape the way we live.
But, I must admit, I was fooled. Young lawyer Mitch McDeere, played by Tom Cruise, is sequestered in an environment loaded with crime, corruption and corrosive legal issues.
Perhaps Memphis is the best part of this film. You’d never expect this dirty work to be occurring in a place synonymous with southern hospitality. And because of that, I love “The Firm.”
No. 2: The People vs. Larry Flynt
I don’t care what you say, this is Woody Harrelson’s best acting performance.
Go to YouTube and watch a video of Larry Flynt speaking and then immediately after, go watch “The People vs. Larry Flynt” if you haven’t already. After that, tell me Harrelson wasn’t on the mark. You won’t.
The only thing more grand than the 1988 landmark Supreme Court case featured in this film, Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, is Flynt’s personality. He tells his lawyer, Alan Isaacman, played by Edward Norton, “I’m your dream client: I’m the most fun, I’m rich and I’m always in trouble.” But in the eyes of Isaacman, Flynt is the client from hell, pulling off outrageous stunts like wearing an American-flag-patterned diaper to court.
The litigation surrounding Flynt is dire and serious, but his flamboyant personality introduces several elements of surprise that keep the legal proceedings from taking on their typical role of being boring and mundane.
“The People vs. Larry Flynt” is based on a true story, yet has as many mind-boggling moments as a well-made psychological thriller.
No. 1: My Cousin Vinny
“My Cousin Vinny” is motivational, and not in the same way Alan Isaacman is motivational in “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” Rather, lawyer Vinny Gambini, played by Joe Pesci, is so unprepared it’s scary.
The consequences are life and death: characters Bill Gambini and Stan Rothenstein have everything going against them, plus an inexperienced lawyer who also has everything going against him.
But, this movie isn’t best for its legal aspects or it being the story of an underdog. It’s best because it does what it is supposed to do. This film is a comedy that never fails to deliver moments of humor.
Director Jonathan Lynn heightens funny scenes through calculated setups. The best example of this is capturing the ecstatic reactions of Gambini and Rothenstein when they find out Vinny is a lawyer, but not long after, they quickly become worried when Vinny says he has “almost six weeks” of practicing law under his belt.
Vinny Gambini is so similar to one of my family friends, who is hysterical and doesn’t even know it.
Gambini’s unawareness for how shot he is solidifies this movie as a classic, as far as I’m concerned.