‘Bernie’ is a dark comedy based on a real life story, which is such an unusual thing to hear, since most movies based on real life are dramas. The majority of the film develops with a series of people sharing their thoughts on Bernie, as a person and what he did for the small town in Texas where this story took place, Carthage. The story is entertaining and although it only made me laugh out loud twice, it is very clever. Jack Black is at his comedic highest here; he did an outstanding job impersonating this character. Unfortunately, this isn’t sufficient to go buy a movie ticket.
Bernie (Jack Black) is a mortician or funeral director as he likes to call it, he’s a perfectionist therefore he is the best at his job in every aspect of it. He even takes on tasks he’s not asked to do such as comforting the widows, by checking on them after their husbands’ passing. Accomplishing this duty he makes friends with Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) who inherited a fortune, after her banker husband died. Marjorie is a spiteful woman that no one in town can stand, not even her family, but somehow Bernie gets in on her good side. Everyone in town loves Bernie and when he’s accused of Marjorie’s death they refuse to believe it, except for Sheriff Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey).
Black is what makes this film, he carries on his whole performance without an ounce of mockery and that’s what makes his character so funny. The movie pokes fun mainly at small town people in the south and they even talk about the rivalry of the different parts of Texas with one another. MacLaine plays a cranky old lady very well and it is easy to dislike her. McConaughey with his Texan accent and strong character fits in perfectly as the Sheriff, who is one of the few voices of reason in this film. The format of the film of interviewing “towns people” is amusing, but what’s even more amusing is making a real life murder into a comedy.
The film has various elements that make it worth watching, but it is better to do it relaxed at home. Usually, we go to the movie theater to watch comedies that make us cry laughing and that’s not the case here. You’ll just smile and raise and eyebrow more than once because of the situations, silliness and characters in it.
Texan director Richard Linklater took this crime from the 90’s and decided to give it life in a way most directors wouldn’t have. He also mocks the south showing a few stereotypes, but mainly showing religious old people, which always say the darnest things. Apparently the people from Carthage didn’t care for this film because they say it’s one sided. Although I wouldn’t say this film was hilarious, I think it’s worth watching when it comes out on DVD, because it was so cleverly developed that it deserves a shot.