Twenty-five years ago, Mona Lisa Vito and Vincent Gambini — fresh from winning his first-ever trial — left a rural Alabama town bound for their native Brooklyn. They drove off, bickering, into the sunset in a 1962 red Cadillac convertible . . . and then the credits rolled on the comedy classic “My Cousin Vinny.”
What happened next to the characters, immortalized by Marisa Tomei and Joe Pesci, is anyone’s guess.
But Long Island crime novelist and “My Cousin Vinny” superfan Lawrence Kelter knows. The 62-year-old has written “Back to Brooklyn,” a literary sequel detailing Vinny’s burgeoning law career and Lisa’s ticking biological clock.
So what in the name of positraction (it’s a “Vinny” thing) would inspire someone to write a sequel to the 1992 fish-out-of-water comedy?
“It really left an imprint on me,” said Kelter, who recalled “tingling with laughter” when he first saw it in theaters. “It resonates with me because I’m from Brooklyn. It’s the kind of movie where, if I was doing anything — if I had an appointment coming up — and the TV is on and I hear, ‘Yeah, you blend,’ that would be it. I would be late to the appointment.”
A little over two years ago, he decided to e-mail “Vinny” screenwriter Dale Launer simply to praise his favorite movie. Twenty minutes later, Launer responded, and the pair quickly struck up a friendship. The writer asked to read one of Kelter’s novels, which feature a smartass detective named Stephanie Chalice.
“He said, ‘Hey, you’re pretty funny.’ So I said, ‘How about I take a crack at Vinny and Lisa and move their life forward in a book series?’ ”
Initially, Launer was reluctant, but Kelter convinced him.
Then came the hard work: Fourteen months spent haggling with the Writers Guild and 20th Century Fox to acquire rights to the characters.
“It was grueling,” said Kelter, who wrote with a Photoshopped image of Vinny and Lisa — leaning on their red Cadillac in front of the Brooklyn Bridge — in his sights. Not that he had to search for inspiration. “I’ve lived with their voices in my head for so long.”
In his book, a slightly less naive Vinny finds a new murder case. This time the trial takes place on Court Street in Brooklyn instead of a stodgy old Alabama courtroom.
“They go home and Vinny’s gotta make some money. Lisa still wants to get married. He doesn’t have two nickels to rub together,” said Kelter. But Vinny’s hired to defend a woman accused of killing her ex-con boyfriend, whose brother happens to be the deputy mayor of New York. Expect a twist revelation at the end.
Kelter reached out to the film’s stars hoping they’d give him a blurb for his book, but Pesci’s manager said the “GoodFellas” actor is retired. Tomei, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Vinny” in 1993, never responded, but Ralph Macchio — who played Bill Gambini, Vinny’s cousin who’s accused of murder in the movie — said he enjoyed the book.
“He told me that to this day, people ask him to autograph cans of tuna,” Kelter said, referring to the movie’s opening scene where Macchio’s character inadvertently shoplifts a can of Starkist.
Kelter has been signing his own autograph lately, at book events, and borrowing a little of Vinny’s Brooklynese in the process: “I always write, ‘To my favorite youts.’ ”
All Credit Goes To : Source link