It’s tough (at least for me) to watch movies when you’re sick- which will serve as the disclaimer for a few of the things I’m about to say for Richard Linklater’s latest film BERNIE. Before I say anything that might seem like huge knock against it I’m going to come out and say I enjoyed this film, I enjoyed Jack Black’s performance and I found it to be quite funny. I did not at any point fall in love with it, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised given the fact that I did not expect this to be good at all.
Based on true events Black stars as Bernie Tied, a mortician with a heart of gold strikes up an odd relationship with a bitter and mean old local woman, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) and the town is shocked when their loveable hero is driven to the point of killing the woman and covers it up for a long period of time before he is finally discovered and taken to trial for his crime.
In the interest of full disclosure, I fell asleep multiple times the first few times I put this on to watch. Not because I was bored or thought it was terrible, but from being sick and plain exhaustion. Once I finally was able to devote my full attention to it, the film is actually pretty great- though I might add that even without my being sick I did get bored a few times. Jack Black gives one of the better performances that I’ve ever seen from him and that never feels like he’s trying to overplay his role or act like a cartoon character. Other than that the dark humor of the entire story is something I couldn’t help but be fascinated by.
Once you get to the meat of this story and you hear the interviews of people that actually knew the real characters this is based on and hear them talk about how they probably would have done the same thing in Bernie’s shoes and praise him for being able to put up with Marjorie as long as he did rather than be disgusted at his action it’s all pretty hysterical. Then once Matthew McConaughey comes into the story and reacts to these people begging leniency for Bernie and how they don’t think he did anything wrong it’s just icing on the cake.
For my two cents there aren’t a whole lot of points to talk to death about this one- Jack Black is great, it’s darkly comedic and actually pretty interesting to watch. However, it’s also a film that I can’t imagine myself recommending to a lot of people, specifically to people who may be interested in seeing another Richard Linklater/Jack Black team up in the same vein as something like THE SCHOOL OF ROCK. One thing I can say for sure is that I got way more out of BERNIE than I ever would have predicted I would. Jack Black’s performance is enough of a reason to check it out, but the comedic nature of the story in general is what kept me engaged till the end.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)