Movie Review: Bernie (2011)

Starring: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey

Directed by: Richard Linklater

The strange true story of Bernie Tiede, a pleasant and likeable assistant funeral director who moves to the small Texas town of Carthage. He begins to comfort and befriend recently widowed Marjorie Nugent when little by little she takes control of his life before he inevitably must decide whether he breaks free from her grasp or not.

This year I have seen a number of Jack Black movies which have included Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Polka King, Goosebumps and Nacho Libre. I felt that he has performed well in each of his roles but he does tend to largely play himself in most of his roles. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as he is immensely funny and appears to be a genuinely nice guy but sometimes it would be nice to see him play something a little different. In this movie he stars as title character Bernie Tiede and the fact that this movie is based on a true story is truly remarkable. I personally had never heard of the story of Bernie Tiede but my wife listens to the ‘My Favourite Murder’ podcast in which this story came up and it was a movie that I had on DVD that I bought a long time ago and just sort of forgot about it. She was really excited to watch the film and see the story play out so last night we put it on as our evenings entertainment.

The opening scene of he movie was fantastic as Jack Black as Bernie Tiede gives a demonstration on how to make a corpse look good for an open coffin funeral. Jack Black came across as charming and softly spoken and as the movie developed into the next couple of scenes he was a treat to watch. The movie is a black comedy filmed in a mocumentary style format and at first I really didn’t like the way the movie was filmed but the style of it really suited the comedic approach to the story and it grew on me as some of the “locals” were really funny and engaging and added a great deal to the overall story arc. The story itself is such a fascinating one to begin with that all this movie needed was a few good acting performances, which it got from Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine, and it was going to draw the audience in. Bernie was a beloved community member by all because of his friendly nature and generosity. After he unknowingly commits the murder of his close friend but also control freak Marjorie, the entire town sided with Bernie and had the trial been held in Carthage, a jury of his peers would’ve found him not guilty despite his confession. It really shows how much of a cornerstone Bernie Tiede was within the community.

I mentioned this in my review of The Polka King but Jack Black has become such a Hollywood star that I often forget that he’s an accomplished musician too. It was only when his character was singing, which he sang a lot throughout the movie, that I remembered that he’s a multi talented man who deserves so much credit for being able to break his trend of playing goofball idiots. He steps out of his comfort zone quite often and usually does a fantastic job and his portrayal of murderer Bernie Tiede is no different.

Overall, Bernie was another solid movie that was highly enjoyable and provided a number of laughs. While I initially didn’t like the way the movie was filmed, it grew on me and I couldn’t imagine a better way to tell this incredible true story.


*note* so far August has been an excellent month for movie watching. The worst film I’ve seen so far has been The Angriest Man in Brooklyn and even that wasn’t a bad film, just an average run of the mill movie. Hopefully this roll I’m on this month continues.

One thought on “Movie Review: Bernie (2011)

  1. This film was such a treat when I first watched it and made me realize how much Jack Black shines in these indie movies while also reminding the world how great he is with something bigger, as you said, in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

    Liked by 1 person

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