Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 107 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: In the tiny, rural town of Carthage, TX, assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede was one of the town’s most beloved residents. He taught Sunday school, sang in the church choir and was always willing to lend a helping hand. Everyone loved and appreciated Bernie, so it came as no surprise when he befriended Marjorie Nugent, an affluent widow who was as well known for her sour attitude as her fortune. Bernie frequently traveled with Marjorie and even managed her banking affairs. Marjorie quickly became fully dependant on Bernie and his generosity and Bernie struggled to meet her increasing demands. Bernie continued to handle her affairs, and the townspeople went months without seeing Marjorie. The people of Carthage were shocked when it was reported that Marjorie Nugent had been dead for some time, and Bernie Tiede was being charged with the murder. (Millennium Entertainment) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    May 17, 2012
    100
    You should have the opportunity to experience the movie the way I did, in complete ignorance, enjoying its every weird turn.
  2. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Apr 26, 2012
    90
    Gaudily vibrant, at times morbidly funny.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    May 2, 2012
    88
    I had to forget what I knew about Black. He creates this character out of thin air, it's like nothing he's done before, and it proves that an actor can be a miraculous thing in the right role.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 26, 2012
    75
    No use trying to describe Bernie. It's a one-of-a-kind inspiration. You will never feel closer to a convicted killer.
  5. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    May 24, 2012
    75
    The question of why the law must always be upheld, regardless of consequences, gives this light, amiable movie a surprising heft and weight. You don't want to see Bernie sent to prison - the world is a better place without that mean old shrew - but murder is murder, right?
  6. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Apr 21, 2012
    70
    Pitch-perfect performances by Shirley MacLaine and an unusually restrained Jack Black hold together this offbeat true-crime saga, but Linklater's keen eye for human eccentricity flowers most memorably on the periphery.
  7. Apr 25, 2012
    38
    A surprisingly shapeless true-crime farce which never creates a convincing context for the odd relationship between a pious East Texas mortician and his sugar mama.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 39
  2. Negative: 4 out of 39
  1. May 21, 2012
    10
    Fantastic movie - I highly recommend you see this movie. Jack Black is a great actor - he plays the true story of Bernie perfectly! He is a wonderful singer, and he sings throughout the movie. I am really glad I went to see this movie. Expand
  2. Jun 4, 2012
    9
    Jack Black deserves an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Bernie Tiede, a small town funeral director who murdered his close elderly friend Marjorie Nugent. The film observes the odd relationship that builds between the two. Bernie is a well-liked and respected figure in Carthage, Texas. He's cheerful and kind, and seems to brighten everyone's day. As a part of his job he comforts widows in their times of grief and keeps in touch with them over the following months. This is how he meets Marjorie (Shirley McLaine), recent widow and local curmudgeon. She shows distaste for just about everyone, whose feelings are perhaps mutual. Bernie however wins her favor with genuine sweetness. The two grow close, much to others' befuddlement. The film utilizes a mockumentary approach surrounding this central narrative; the locals (who may or may not be actual Carthage residents) offer gossip and opinions on what occurred between Bernie and Marjorie. This approach works well, providing audiences with numerous authentic slices of life. Director Richard Linklater keeps the humor gentle, even when ranging into darker territory, while the dramatic counterpoints prove oddly touching. Though the performances highlight the film, the underlying tenderness is what drives it home. Unlike most recent comedies, this one contains a beating heart. Expand
  3. Aug 15, 2012
    9
    It is a film that works so well in so many areas it is outstanding. It works as a documentry, comedy, drama and comment of life in texas. Jack Black delivers a subtle funny and dramatic performance. It is a stunning achievement Expand
  4. Jun 5, 2012
    8
    Never say never is the old cry and I remember, after seeing â
  5. Oct 8, 2012
    8
    Endlessly entertaining, it is hard not to love every single minute of this exceptional blend of semi-documentary style, dark comedy and tragic real-life events. Jack Black turns in probably his greatest performance, but the film really benefits from the citizens of Carthage,some of them played by real townspeople, who give hilarious insight into Bernie and his story. Expand
  6. Mar 18, 2014
    7
    It is amazing that this was a true story. Richard Linklater managed to sprinkle in some hilarious moments along with telling the true story of Bernie Tiede and how he murdered Marjorie Nugent. It does a great job presenting the moral conflict of this story and, well, I do not want to say too much. Jack Black did a phenomenal job in the lead role. I was incredibly impressed with his performance. I really enjoyed Shirley MacLaine's performance, but I have a soft spot for Matthew McConaughey. He really portrayed the hard nosed Texan District Attorney really well. At the end of the day, this one really reminded me of Gone Baby Gone but funny. The conflict is different, but it leaves you feeling the same way. Another touch that I enjoyed from this one was the documentary-esque way of telling the story. With all the interviews from locals about everybody, it was a nice addition that really re-enforced that this one was a real story.

    I do not really have any complaints that I can think of, but something was missing. It was definitely enjoyable and a good movie, but not really great in any area. Would definitely recommend.
    Expand
  7. Oct 12, 2013
    0
    that is one of the worst movies of all time. It was more of a documentary than a comedy movie. How can anyone call it a comedy movie?? There is no comedy element in this movie. I think critics of this movie are just as retarded as the makers of the movie. Bad bad movie. It sucks. Expand

See all 39 User Reviews

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