Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35
  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Apr 26, 2012
    90
    Gaudily vibrant, at times morbidly funny.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Apr 23, 2012
    70
    It's an odd movie - mild in tone and circumspect, yet darkly funny, and done in a hybrid form that I don't think has been used so thoroughly before.
  6. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    May 17, 2012
    91
    Slight but terrific. The intertwining of the sharply tuned actors and the guileless (and often hilarious) townspeople is seamless, the tale is sometimes despairing but never heavy, and the blend of drama, comedy and music is brisk and fresh.
  7. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Apr 27, 2012
    85
    The wonder of Black's performance here is its empathy and balance: inasmuch as he can disappear into any role, he dissolves into this one with no hint of mocking remove. It's a beautiful thing to see.
  8. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 24, 2012
    100
    Matthew McConaughey finally locates his perfect métier as the town's Fordian skeptic, a district attorney who smells a rat.
  9. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    May 17, 2012
    75
    Interspersing "real" people with professional actors, Linklater creates a vivid, gossipy Greek chorus that serves as a kind of collective unreliable narrator -- an altogether appropriate stance given the moral gray zone the sweetly confounding Bernie inhabits.
  10. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    May 17, 2012
    88
    Weirdly funny, inspiring film.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    May 17, 2012
    75
    As composite sketches go, it's a good one.
  12. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Apr 27, 2012
    91
    The innocence of the townspeople is weirdly uplifting. They love their Bernie so much that they seem even more blinkered than he is.
  13. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Apr 26, 2012
    90
    This is writer-director Richard Linklater at his wry, whimsical best, and considering he was the filmmaker behind 1993's "Dazed and Confused," that makes the movie something of a milestone.
  14. 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.
  15. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 26, 2012
    60
    It was a stroke of genius, at least a miniature one, to cast Black in this role – he's made to play the affable teddy bear who could snap at any moment.
  16. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Apr 25, 2012
    83
    Though the lightness of Bernie can get disconcerting at times, even cartoonish, Linklater approaches the story with a bemused curiosity that seems about right under the circumstances.
  17. Reviewed by: Adam Markovitz
    Apr 25, 2012
    58
    All those twangy, homespun observations interrupt and annotate the narrative until Black and MacLaine's scenes start to feel as trivial as reenactments on a true-crime TV show.
  18. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Apr 25, 2012
    88
    It's a delectable slice of Southern Gothic humor, a side show of rednecks and Bubbas and Aunt Tooties.
  19. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Apr 24, 2012
    80
    Richard Linklater's Bernie is the rarest of rarities: a truly unexpected film. It might be classified as a black comedy, for it deals with the murder of an 81-year-old woman in a fashion that is not exactly tragic.
  20. 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?
  21. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    May 18, 2012
    88
    Bernie could easily have gone horribly wrong. But Black and Linklater finesse this tricky material with as much virtuosity as Bernie brings to that broccoli.
  22. 75
    Propelled by a perfectly cast trio of stars whose eccentricities shine in singular character roles, Bernie is a charmer.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 17, 2012
    63
    Black gets to play an actual character instead of a loudmouthed cartoon. The movie's bright and endearing and surprisingly lacking in a point. I wish I liked it better.
  24. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    May 17, 2012
    80
    The story provides great roles for Jack Black as the sunny title character, Shirley MacLaine as his dyspeptic victim, and Matthew McConaughey as the good-old-boy D.A. who prosecutes the crime. But some of the best performances come from real-life residents of Carthage as they share their recollections on camera.
  25. 70
    On its own terms, Bernie is smoothly made and reasonably entertaining, Linklater doing his Austin-based best not to condescend to the locals - at least the East Carthage locals.
  26. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Apr 27, 2012
    88
    Jack Black gives the performance of his career in the title role of Bernie, under the pitch-perfect direction of his "School of Rock'' director, Richard Linklater, who expertly crafts a black comedy with a deceptively sunny surface. It's the best movie I've seen all spring.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Apr 27, 2012
    60
    Jack Black adds new depths to his slippery comic persona in Bernie, a movie that may not ultimately add up to much, but which is filled with wonderfully odd details of weird Americana.
  28. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 26, 2012
    70
    Where the movie is at its best is in the comically laconic, straight-to-the-camera remarks offered by Carthage's residents. (They're played by a mix of local actors and real townspeople doing partially scripted versions of themselves.)
  29. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Apr 26, 2012
    50
    Instead of exploring something bigger, like the origins of Bernie's need for the company of elderly ladies (which Hollandsworth touched on in Texas Monthly; Tiede lost his mother at age 3 and his father at 15), Linklater limits the story and mood to black comedy.
  30. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Apr 25, 2012
    78
    Jack Black redeems himself (for Gulliver's Travels, among other things) with a subtly quirky performance that's one of his personal best.
  31. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Apr 21, 2012
    60
    More than the film that surrounds him, Jack Black is worth the price of admission in Bernie, an oddball May-December true life crime story that would have profited from being a whole lot darker and full-bodied than it is.
  32. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Apr 21, 2012
    50
    Bernie is an interesting guy, but he doesn't make for very good company.
  33. 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.
  34. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Apr 29, 2013
    60
    If the crime element feels like little more than a red herring, it’s the characters that give the film its appeal.
  35. Reviewed by: Andrew Pulver
    Apr 26, 2013
    80
    Black's performance is a revelation: foregoing his usual repertoire of jiggling, tics and head-waggling craziness, Black ensures Tiede is a satirical creation of considerable substance. Really impressive.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 112 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 40
  2. Negative: 4 out of 40
  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 aFantastic 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. Full Review »
  2. Aug 29, 2012
    6
    It was a pretty solid move that is helped greatly by the wonderful performance by Jack Black. The biggest problem I had was that there wasIt was a pretty solid move that is helped greatly by the wonderful performance by Jack Black. The biggest problem I had was that there was really very little of the actual plot. The film largely oonsisted of numerous actors/actresses discussing things that Bernie does and what he is like, what his relationship is like with the female lead. That was a little disapointing because Black's performance was so good that it really should have been expanded on and he should have had more dialogue and better interaction with the female lead as well.

    Overall, It was a solid movie. A decently made film that is worth checking out.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 23, 2012
    1
    This is the worst and most boring movie I have ever seen. I would rather eat curry and watch desperate housewives for eight hours then sitThis is the worst and most boring movie I have ever seen. I would rather eat curry and watch desperate housewives for eight hours then sit through jack blacks worst movie he's ever created. No comedy at all and it sukz ballz!!!!!!!!!!! bALLZ!! Full Review »