A retired cop blackmails ex burglar Bernice into paying him $20,000 - thus burgling. Paid to get a dentist's jewelry back from her ex's apartment, someone murders the ex and Bernice is a suspect. She investigates.
Bernice "Bernie" Rhodenbarr is a burglar by trade, and she runs a bookstore as well. Her friend Carl Hefler is a dog groomer. After a successful burglary, it's discovered that a dead body was in the house she burgled. As she's the only one who can be placed at the scene of the crime, she has to use her criminal skills to clear her name of the murder AND avoid getting charged with the burglary.Written by
Bruce Willis was originally offered the role of Bernie (before the character was changed to a woman in the screenplay). See more »
Elizabeth Ruscio is credited twice at the end of the movie. Moments after her character is displayed with the actress' name credited in a caption, as is done with all the other major characters, Ruscio is again credited under "Also Starring," at the beginning of the rolling credits. See more »
Whoopie Goldberg is Bernie, a fast-talking ex-convict. She's not yet been able to give up the robbery work, despite constant reminders at the climax of each heist how she's "getting too old for this." And she would give it up were it not for Ray Kirschman (G.W. Bailey--he was Captain Harris in Police Academy), a detective who is hounding Bernie for $25,000 and a mink coat for his wife to keep from turning over evidence that could put her back behind bars. However, due to their friendly relationship, though Bernie is very calculating around Ray, it's hard to believe he would be a guy that would be blackmailing her. And halfway through the movie, they're hardly at odds with each other at all.
Bailey lets Bernie onto a high stakes heist. Dr. Cynthia Sheldrake (Leslie Anne Warren) is a dentist. Her patients are mostly illegal immigrants, so they pay in cash. With the cash, she and her husband bought some pretty expensive jewels, totaling somewhere around a hundred thousand or more. When they split up, Sheldrake's husband kept the jewels at his place and she wants them back. That's where Bernie comes into the picture. One last heist to make enough money to square with Bailey and in the end, get out of the business for good. It seems easy enough. That is, until Sheldrake's husband is murdered while Bernie was hiding out in the closet. And now, she's the prime suspect. But Bernie, a smart cookie that she is, isn't about to go down without a fight. And, she seems to be the only really intent on serving the murder and prove her innocence. And it isn't going to be easy.
Burglar isn't a whole lot of comedy as much as it is a murder mystery. Of course, with Whoopie Goldberg in the lead, you can expect a load of funny antics as Bernie sweet talks her way through the story with the help of her slurring spastic friend, Carl (Bobcat Goldwaith) who has some pretty funny moments himself, especially during the interrogation scene with John Goodman. Also, there's a pretty good chase scene as the cops chase Bernie through the wild hilly asphalt of San Fransico, with some of the chase done with camera views from the bumpers. But the movie, like I said before, is largely a murder mystery.
Unfortunately, the audience may start losing interest towards the end, as Bernie seems to have her end of the mystery solved. The movie puts on the brakes once she reports her findings to the wife Sheldrake and everyone drags their feet around deciding what to do then. By then, any suspense of Bernie's snooping around, is turned into a totally dull bit of scenes followed by a pretty lame conclusion. So, I'd say the movie was decent at least up to the end.
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