Written by / 9/19/2013 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

JACK BLACK DELIVERS AS BERNIE

year: 2012 cast: Jack Black, Shirley MacClaine, Matthew McConaughey, Sonny Davis rating: ****
BERNIE is a very pleasant surprise, and a nice way for Jack Black to show anyone not familiar with his music career he has a really soulful voice, and, as a usually comedic actor, that he can do more than goof off.

Black plays a real life small town Texas mortician Bernie Tiede, thoroughly beloved by all the residents, especially old ladies/widows grieving their late husbands, who Bernie not only prepares for burial but gives each ceremony the sort of personal touch, including hymns and doves, that you won’t find anywhere else.
Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine in BERNIE
Of all the widows, one is worth the most money... she’s also the meanest. Shirley MacClaine plays curmudgeon Marjorie Nugget, heir to big oil money Bernie spends like it’s going out of style but not on selfish things: The town receives gifts ranging from new cars to church buildings to children’s swing sets.

The best scenes occur during the buildup, introducing Bernie and the small town, and then as he puts up with the bullying Marjorie as she annoyingly chews food and orders menial tasks – all the while they vacation in New York City and Europe. And he’s able to spend even more after her death, which isn’t such a natural cause.

After Bernie gets caught, this pseudo documentary/dark comedy… with townspeople providing insight in almost every other scene (Sonny Davis' summary of Texas is a hoot)... enters the courtroom where Matthew McConaughey, playing it up as the local D.A., does his best to put poor Bernie behind bars.
Matthew McConaughey promises to uphold justice in BERNIE
McConaughey, while a talented actor, takes a little getting used to during interview sequences... When he's first introduced with forced "homophobic" rants and macho bias, he deviates from the documentary style and seems like he's doing his best to parody small town mentality. But as the trial begins he gets more realistic and intense, and as a District Attorney heading an open/shut case, extremely logical.

It's never quite clear whether this quirky biopic sides with Bernie Tiede or not... On the one hand his victim is shown as an annoying witch the entire town wants dead, yet Bernie often comes off as a cartoonish Christian dolt oblivious to reality.

Either way you'll enjoy Jack Black’s performance, showing more range than ever as a character that, although right up front and open as a book, is still quite mysterious.
Sonny Davis steals the interview sequences scenes in BERNIE
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