Editor’s Note: In Orson Scott Card’s Jan. 4 Uncle Orson Review Everything, Card wrote about My Cousin Vinny as well as the sequal, Back to Brooklyn. Back to Brooklyn’s author, Larry Kelter, was unhappy with the content and submitted the following rebuttal. (To see the Card’s column, visit rhinotimes.com.)
By Larry Kelter
Jan. 4, 2018. I awoke to the sound of howling winds and clattering shutters. Winter Storm Grayson was upon us, a blizzard of such epic proportions, it carried its very own destructive moniker, bombogenesis, a title commensurate with a Michael Bay disaster film.
Little did I know that all the bluster I was to face that day was not to come from explosive cyclogenesis (the badass storm).
As a writer I have the privilege of working from home. I fired up my Mac and began checking emails. Lo and behold, a Google alert popped up announcing that literary icon Orson Scott Card had written a piece about my all-time favorite movie, My Cousin Vinny.
I couldn’t have been more excited. Not only am I one of the film’s most enthusiastic fans, I’m the author of Back To Brooklyn, the film’s authorized sequel.
I was eager to see if such a well-respected writer held this film in the same high regard that I did. After all, he is Orson Scott Card, the genius writer behind Ender’s Game. No slouch, right? I hungered for kinship with a writer of such immense talent.
Joy of all joys – Card lauded the film.
Imagine, Orson Scott Card and me on the same page, side by side as it were, part of the My Cousin Vinny – worshiping high mind collective.
And then he did the unthinkable – he blindly bashed my novel, condemning its reason for being without so much as reading a single word of it. “I have to tell you right now that I hate this book unread,” he said. “I hate it because it has already been announced that 25 years later, Vinny and Mona Lisa are not married.” It was announced? Where? “What happened to that ticking biological clock? If they couldn’t actually get to the altar in Kelter’s version, then he doesn’t understand the characters we came to love in that movie.”
I don’t? Really?
Kind of thought I did.
Thanks to much memorable discourse with the screenwriter, Dale Launer, I believe I understand the characters perfectly. Lisa has not been pining away for 25 years waiting to tie the knot. Back To Brooklyn picks up exactly where the film leaves off. It’s a seamless transition. The last bits of dialogue from the movie are the very first sentences in the book. Lisa, who Launer envisioned to be a 27-year old in the film is not a 52-year-old spinster. She’s still 27. The couple does, however, have a large issue to contend with – Vinny is not romantic, a real deal breaker in Lisa’s mind, one they must first resolve before moving on to wedded bliss.
Theirs is a love story and love stories can be ongoing.
Often bandied about with verve and a chuckle is the question, “Who is every Southerner’s favorite lawyer, Atticus Finch or Vincent Gambini?” I mention this only because the entire book-reading world waited 55 long years between the publication of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird and the sequel, Go Set a Watchman. So 25 years is looking more and more like the blink of an eye.
I’d like to set the record straight.
There was always going to be a sequel. Fox paid Launer to write a sequel many, many, years ago, which he did, but the film was never produced. Fox also wanted to spin the film into a TV sitcom. Alas, this too never came to pass.
Why you may ask? Wait for it …
(Small tidbit – the studio wanted to cut Mona Lisa Vito from the movie, and Launer had to beef up her role in order to satisfy the powers that be/were. Hence, the famous “biological clock” scene was added, not before filming, but during.)
So, the answer as to why no movie or TV sequel ever saw the light of day is that no one is perfect as is evidenced by the studio exec who wanted to axe Marisa and has probably been pounding the pavement ever since (we can only hope).
Dale had always envisioned an ongoing legacy for Vinny and Lisa. He sees them as a modern day Nick and Nora Charles, albeit much funnier, with Lisa investigating and Vinny litigating.
Mr. Card, I have no objection to criticism. I invite you to read Back To Brooklyn, and if you hate it, feel free to say so, but to make a judgment unread?
Back To Brooklyn is the first in a series Dale and I hope will go on for quite some time. Readers of the book are laughing their butts off, and it’s not such a stretch to believe that you might as well.
Am I sure?
Yeah, I’m pos-i-tive.
Well, pretty positive.