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Bernie
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Bernie More at IMDbPro »

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

True crime comedy, Texas-style

8/10
Author: napierslogs from Ontario, Canada
20 July 2012

A dark comedy, "Bernie" is a mix of true crime and documentary. It's based on a true story and weaves a tale of a character both sympathetic and guilty, and supporting characters who are stubborn and compassionate. Grab your cowboy hats, belt buckles, and King James Bible because we are off to Carthage, Texas for a story about funerals, murder and homosexuality.

Bernie (Jack Black) is an odd sort of fellow. He's a mortician who sends off the deceased from small town Texas to Heaven in style. Little old ladies love him; he goes to church, donates his time and money and is liked by everybody. He's quiet, but sings sweetly, and appears to be happy just being himself. Larger-than-life comedians take note of Black's subdued, character-enlightening and hilarious performance.

Bernie meets wealthy widow Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine) and like with all little old ladies, he wants to make sure that she's properly cared for during this tough time. The difference is that this time she's trying to keep distance from his flirtations rather than the other way around. She's not nice, and the other residents are pretty sure there is only word that suitably describes her. She has one son and four grandkids; some of whom have attempted to sue her, and the others have actually sued her.

Bernie and Marjorie have a need for each other; money, companionship, and who knows what else. Their relationship is simultaneously unclear and creepy. This is where the plot develops. Bernie is up to something and the townsfolk are either going to stand by their man or paint him as a criminal (or homosexual, because in Carthage, Texas they're pretty much one in the same). Bernie's main adversary is District Attorney Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey). He's sure that Bernie is gay and he's also sure that Bernie is up to no good and will pay for whatever crime he has committed. McConaughey was extremely funny and was able to play into his Texas background but was completely different from anything he has done before. There's something special about an actor who can follow up the success of "Magic Mike" (2012) with something like this.

Linklater has followed this true story to the letter, even using real town residents to introduce us to the character of Bernie. His genius comes through in the writing. The dialogue is unbelievably funny and he uses people's need to laugh rather than their commitment to empathy to get us to connect to this film. Considering how funny and enjoyable the rest of "Bernie" was, the ending seemed out of place. Upon further reflection, it was exactly the kind of jolt back to reality that was needed.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Excellent and very funny black comedy

8/10
Author: yeltzmanmatt from Birmingham, England
9 December 2014

A mortician strikes up a friendship with a rich controlling businesswoman that doesn't have good consequences.

The film is told like a documentary with interviews with people who knew the pair along with flashbacks to stages in their relationship. It's an interesting format and one that works well. The story flows well and holds your attention throughout. This is a good example of a black comedy that really works with a sparkling and very witty script with lots of well observed and funny moments but also some good dark drama.

It features a strong cast with Jack Black as a popular mortician.The stand out performance for me was by Matthew McConaughey as the charismatic cop trying to put Black behind bars.

Bernie is one of those films that you watch with low expectations but which surprises you with how good it is. It deserves a much higher rating than it's current 6.8 (36,466 votes). Highly recommended.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This movie is about a man (Bernie) who befriends everybody in his town, becomes a suspect for a murder

10/10
Author: Sarah Quinn
16 November 2013

Can I just say, I freaking love indies!! This is definitely a favorite! It's so funny and interesting and brilliant. I mean the fact that it is based on a true story, makes it even more real. I just love how they brought it too screen. It was very documentary like and funny, interesting and sentimental kind of. It is a dark comedy, so if you don't like that stuff, don't watch it. I think this is was Jack Black's best performance ever. I loved his character, it was very real and connecting. Also this was probably McConaughey's best as well. I highly recommend watching this, (yes it's on Netflix) it has great acting, great actors great everything. Just watch it. Rate: 10/10 Rated: PG-13 Film Directed by Richard Linklater

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Truth is Freakier than Fiction

8/10
Author: itamarscomix from Israel
31 December 2012

Richard Linklater - one of the most enigmatic directors working today, one who never makes two similar films, and one of the few whose style and themes I can never pinpoint - completely blurs the line between documentary, mockumentary and dramatization with Bernie, s gem that won't make any headlines but may well go down in history as one of the best films of its year. Jack Black - in what is surely his finest dramatic performance so far - is fantastic as mortician and convicted murderer Bernie Tiede. Black completely immerses himself into the role, and completely immerses the viewer into the film; for the first time he doesn't play himself (as he did in films like School of Rock and King Kong), but a character who feels real and very lovable, and it's hard not to root for Tiede even after we see what he's capable of.

Linklater seamlessly merged dramatized and highly stylized scenes (the opening scene in particular is pure cinematic gold) with mockumentary style 'talking heads' segments and with actual interviews with people who knew the real Bernie; the juxtaposition is so perfect that, if I didn't recognize Matthew Mcconaughey, I might have mistaken him for one of the townspeople. Linklater takes notes from Errol Morris' and Harmony Korine's portrayal of small town quirkiness, but he does so with much more love and creates something much more watchable; Bernie works as a black comedic drama with a lot of soul and a lot of entertainment value as much as it works as a semi-documentary. While it left some issues unexplored - I would have liked to see more of Shirley MacLaine's character, as well as Bernie's relationship with the townspeople, which we get mainly through the interview segments - it's a great success in that it leaves you wanting more. Don't miss it.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Boy is this a tough one to categorize

8/10
Author: Muti R Sufi (mutisufi)
30 December 2012

Im not sure if this was a comedy, a drama, a dramady or a tragedy, but it was engaging throughout regardless. What makes it so hard to peg down is that its based on a true story, but maybe its OK if it cant be quite pegged down. Regardless, the performances of its starring cast including Shirley Mcclain and Matthew Mcconaughey, but especially Jack Black were absolutely outstanding. If for no other reason, this film was worth watching, maybe a few times, just to truly capture the depth of the performances put forth here. Oddly, this isn't a film that ever got too much buzz because of its modest budget and minimal advertising, but personally I believe it deserves another look by many who may not even know it exists. Just because it defies a typical categorization doesn't mean it doesn't excel in any number of them. But please don't get me wrong, it is surely weird as hell!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Darkly hilarious... so bizarre, it must be true!

8/10
Author: Dory_Darko from Netherlands
28 October 2012

Bernie is a really fun and enjoyable dark comedy, starring Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. This is actually the true story of what happened between a purely good man and a purely evil woman.

Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, an assistant undertaker in the small town of Carthage, Texas. He is loved by everybody for his pure-hearted character, his sympathy for every person he comes across and his willingness to help everyone who needs it in any way, shape or form. He's just such a good guy, you almost wouldn't believe it if not for the fact that this character is based on an actual person.

And then there's Marjorie Nugent, played by Shirley MacLaine. She is his polar opposite, as hated as Bernie is loved. She is the widow of some rich oil baron, and she is just the most mean and spiteful woman you could ever fear to meet. Everyone in town absolutely hates her guts, and there's no one who would be sorry to see her go...

Then comes the day when these two people meet and – all due to Bernie's good nature – form an unlikely friendship. Until about two years later when Marjorie's true personality rears its ugly head and even Bernie can't stand her abuse any longer, when he is reduced to her personal slave and whipping boy. And what no one believed possible, happens... He kills her. (don't worry, that's not a spoiler, that's the story line.) What follows is the strange lengths Bernie attempts to go to, in order to cover up his crime.

What makes this film work so well is mostly the subtle humour of it. Director Richard Linklater thankfully didn't choose to make this into the hysterical, caricature of a comedy it easily could have been. Something that really adds to the authenticity of the film is the use of actual Carthage townsfolk, providing commentary on the events in documentary-like interview scenes. This really is a perfect move on the director's part, because it makes the 'acting' completely real and spontaneous.

I really like Jack Black, but in this case, I'm somewhat glad he left his crazy mannerisms and facial expressions at the door, in order to just play this character true-to-form. He actually acts, rather than just playing another silly, typical "Jack Black character".

I always love watching Shirley MacLaine in a mean and vile role such as this one, and in 'Bernie', she plays it to a T once again. Imagine her character in 'Steel Magnolia's' and then multiply it by ten. That's what you get here and it's an absolute joy to watch.

Matthew McConaughey plays the county sheriff, dead-set on burning Bernie for his crime. I'm usually not too fond of him, but his role in 'Bernie' is pretty funny and he plays it well. He seems to be the only person in town who thinks it's bad what happened to Marjorie. That's another really funny aspect to this story – the fact that everybody involved just loves Bernie so much and really hates Marjorie to the bone, that they all seem to take his side in the matter. You might feel like I'm just throwing spoilers at you here, but pretty much the whole story is told in hindsight and flashbacks, so there are no real secrets or mysteries unveiled. Then what's the point of watching, you might ask, if I already know everything that's going to happen from the get-go? The point is the enjoyment you'll get from watching these events unfold.

The actors are all really well cast, and they play their roles with a certain flair that makes them instantly likable. The dialogue is clever and witty, and like I mentioned earlier, the combination of event re-enactment and documentary-like interviews, is a winning ticket and 'Bernie's' major selling point. The story is well constructed, as is the chronology of how it unfolds. Basically, it's just very well-made, and it definitely would have deserved a little more credit. But then again, this film also kind of has a "small budget/small audience" feel to it, so that might explain why it practically went unnoticed at the box office. It's just a shame that charming little comedies like 'Bernie' always get overlooked when stuff like 'The Hangover' and the like get multi-million dollar appraisal. All I can hope for is that 'Bernie' gathers its own DVD-fan base, because it's certainly worth it.

Watch this film if you're in the mood a darkly hilarious comedy that has its heart in the right place. Oh, and stick around for the credits, where you can see pictures of the actual Bernie and Marjorie, and footage of Bernie and Jack Black talking, which is a fun addition.

All in all, a highly recommended film!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very interesting true story that gets very entertaining with Jack Black in the lead role.

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
8 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

East Texas is an interesting part of the country, and with its rolling hills and old-growth pine forests unique among the various regions of the state. When you travel along highway 59 north from Houston, as I have done many times, you pass right through Carthage. I never gave much thought to this fairly ordinary East Texas town, but something very interesting was going on there in 1996.

Jack Black is just ideal as Bernie Tiede, chubby, happy, "light in the loafers" assistant undertaker at the local funeral home. Bernie enjoys life and likes people, especially the little old ladies. Bernie also loves theater and loves to sing (Jack Black, it turns out, has a really good singing voice) whether it be on stage or hymns in church.

Shirley MacLaine, one of my favorites over the years, is little old local wealthy lady Marjorie Nugent. After her husband died Bernie did what he could to be nice to Marjorie, such as going to her home to give her little gifts, bath soap and brownies, for example. Marjorie didn't have friends, even her other family members shunned her, she had a reputation for being so difficult. Some even considered her hateful.

But she takes a liking to Bernie's company. Soon they are going places together, shopping for nicer clothes, and eventually taking trips, even out of the country. But Marjorie started to be mean to Bernie, she demanded he become only part-time at the funeral home, she wanted him to be with her all the time, he eventually became almost her servant. Bernie became increasingly wary of her.

Then one day the local people quit seeing Marjorie. Her financial adviser asked about her. Her long-time hairdresser was disappointed that she quit going to him. Bernie told them she had had a mild stroke and was in a hospital out of town, that she needed rest and recovery time. But people became suspicious.

One of those was Matthew McConaughey as local D.A. Danny Buck . He was determined to get to the bottom of all this.

Bernie, Marjorie, and Danny are real people, and all this really happened in Carthage from the late 1980s through the late 1990s. Jack Black shows his versatility, he doesn't miss a beat in his role as Bernie, making him funny but also real. The movie uses many local non-actors who appear interview-style telling various (scripted) stories about Bernie and Marjorie. Many of them actually knew them.

This is a somewhat quirky story, some may not like it, but for me it was a total fun movie. Plus the extras on the DVD are in many ways as interesting as the movie itself, and gives additional insights into Carthage and the Bernie story.

SPOILERS: After Marjorie was missing for several months the police opened her home to search for any evidence of wrong-doing. In the garage they found Marjorie's body in the chest-type freezer, frozen under various food packages. She had been shot, four times, in the back. (A very brief early scene depicts it.) Bernie, a non-violent person, had just "snapped" under her oppressive treatment. But he knew she needed a proper burial, that is why he kept her in the freezer. In a legal twist, the trial was moved to a different region, so that there could be a fair trial, because Bernie was so well-liked they were afraid no Carthage jury would convict him. Today Bernie is serving his prison time in a Texas prison.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Black Is Back....I mean Bernie!

9/10
Author: AudioFileZ from United States
3 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jack Black comes roaring back with a tour de force and it's not coincidental it occurs with Richard Linklater. This movie is almost so perfect for Jack Black it as if it is a vehicle for him, but, and here's the really compelling part, it is based on the true story of Bernie Tiedum. Fact, many times, is superior to fiction and this is a raging case in point.

Small town Missouri, Carthage to be exact, widow has more money than the town itself, but is harrowingly mean. Enter one man, an anomaly if you will, an assistant funeral director with an ambiguous sexual orientation and a lot of humanity. That's Bernie Tiedum. He probably wouldn't fit in any world but he fits like hand in glove in the small town of Carthage. He is beyond reproach in his day job of handling funerals of the locals with sincere attention to detail. His other activities center on making Carthage a richer town such as his creating a playhouse where the locals can enjoy culture otherwise only available in the metropolitan cities. He's active in not just the lives of senior citizens, but the families of the town. He's an odd duck to be sure, but he is genuinely well-liked and seen as a upright man full of civic pride. In his desire to be these things he happens to befriend a widow who most folks shun due to her decidedly dour demeanor. It is probably fair to say that due her wealth, as well as his disposition, a working relationship evolves whereby Bernie echews his other jobs to a degree and becomes her paid man-servant and confidant. Stranger things have happened, but not, perhaps, in Carthage.

This is the jumping off point of the movie Bernie. Bernie is, like the title character himself, and odd-duck of a movie. It's done in docu-drama style and, I must say, the format is done justice. The pairing of Linklater and Black makes for a sum possibly bigger than the parts. While most have never heard of this strange saga in the movie it is treated as if viewer is is privy to one of the eras great mysterious happenings. First, I credit Jack Black. Black is at his best in the role of Bernie. He truly brings on-screen life to a character that is rich and colorful...and very human if odd. Linklater's deft touch in the script and direction is perfect for Black's performance as it takes what could be a very dark story and breathes tremendous light and balance to exactly the way the town felt about the whole affair. If it were up to this reviewer Black has a Academy Award nomination for best actor in the bag with Linklater being, perhaps, also nominated for direction. The whole story could have fell apart as dreck, but much the opposite occurs as it is interesting, endearing, and entertaining.

Truth is that justice was served in the final chapter. Matthew McConaughey's district attorney is the only part that seems to be pandering...But, I imagine the real life person this was based on couldn't help but use this as his own personal "spring-board" so even in this performance there is still good merit (McConaughey's role as supporting star works versus his usual "miss" starring roles). See this film. It's an Americana slice of rural life presented in a unique way which informs, but ultimately is great entertainment.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Very Special Treat

9/10
Author: aharmas from United States
27 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Jack Black is something else, a man who doesn't look like a star, an everyman, the perfect person to play "Bernie", a real-life character who must be seen to believed, a person who won the hearts of many in Carthage, Texas, made more than few contributions to his community, and for the most part had that community overlook some of his eccentricities. Eventually, Bernie finds himself indicted for a crime he confessed committing, and then the whole world goes crazy.

Bernie is composed of a many real-life testimonies who help you understand who this man was. Many of the stories are unbelievable and quite amusing. You know no one could have fabricated some of those facts. The other part of the movie has the reenactments by a very talented cast, headed by Black and Shirley Maclaine, making a triumphant return to the top of her talents. She makes her Mrs. Nugent one of her most memorable creations. There is so much power in Ms. Maclaine's eyes, as her character is one who has managed to build quite a negative reputation in her city for being a hateful and guarded person who can't trust almost no one, until Bernie walks into her life, and she lets her guard down.

Another surprise is Mccaunaghey who plays a prosecutor who is known to be one of the few people in Carthage who doesn't trust Bernie's good nature at all. He seems to have plenty of integrity and intelligence, and when he finally gets to try Bernie there's plenty of conviction in the way he delivers his lines.

"Bernie" is a small but potent dark comedy, a film that will have you laughing at the most unexpected situations, at how strange human nature can be, and it can also make you think that life is truly stranger than fiction.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Amazing

8/10
Author: hvprasad from India
14 July 2012

An amazing movie. One off movie we come across. Curiously directed with lots of direct - interview type story telling. I saw it in Singapore and fell in love with the way the story was cinematographers. I liked it immensely. Mr.Black's acting reveals the character of Bernie splendidly. The town folk to have done a great job. Carthage has now joined the annals of great cinema places. Kudos to Mr.Linklater. I would not hesitate to get a DVD when released. The humor is soft and direct to laugh. It is easy to despise the action of district attorney. But one has to understand that it was his job to bring to justice, those responsible for crime.

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