Two college students from New York (Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield) are wrongly accused of killing a clerk in a convenience store in Wahzoo City, Alabama, and one’s Brooklyn cousin–a rookie lawyer (Joe Pesci)–arrives with his fiancee (Marisa Tomei) to defend them in what proves to be his first court case. While it’s easy to imagine an infinite number of bad courtroom comedies based on this scenario, this movie turns out to be wonderful–broad and low character comedy that’s solidly imagined and beautifully played. Far from having a bone to pick with either side of the cultural collision, writer-producer Dale Launer (Ruthless People) and director Jonathan Lynn (Nuns on the Run), both surpassing their earlier accomplishments, are clearly equal-opportunity caricaturists, with affection for both the southern and northern factions in the movie. The cast (which also includes a very wry Fred Gwynne and Austin Pendleton in a cameo role) is uniformly good, but Tomei is especially worth noting as the lawyer’s smart and feisty girlfriend; her performance triumphs over an improbable number of costume changes. (Burnham Plaza, Golf Mill, Lincoln Village, Water Tower, Ford City, Harlem-Cermak, Evanston, Norridge, Webster Place)