Bernie

User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 126 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 93 out of 126
  2. Negative: 8 out of 126
Watch On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  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.
  2. Apr 27, 2012
    7
    Director/writer Richard Linklater ("Slacker," and "Dazed and Confused") just has a knack for making "funny" out of sheer quirkiness; "Bernie" is no exception. However, such an amalgam, in this instance, wears a conspicuous switchblade on the sleeve of its seemingly unimpeachable, happy-go-lucky, awe-shucks suit--comely yet fey--which makes the audience's support of its protagonist,Director/writer Richard Linklater ("Slacker," and "Dazed and Confused") just has a knack for making "funny" out of sheer quirkiness; "Bernie" is no exception. However, such an amalgam, in this instance, wears a conspicuous switchblade on the sleeve of its seemingly unimpeachable, happy-go-lucky, awe-shucks suit--comely yet fey--which makes the audience's support of its protagonist, notwithstanding the solemnly predetermined circumstances and resolution, all the more substantial; one can't help but feel his internal struggle to restrain himself from the impending provocation, and revert to a suit unsheathed from trepidation and worry. Hence, "Bernie" is as much a "based-on-a-true-crime-story" as it is an emotional exercise in one coming to grips with the life they "needed" to have, but weren't "ready" to try. As for the movie itself, a plot too unconventional to be anything other than...well...true, it is about real-life character and mortician, Bernie Tiede, (Jack Black) who moves to the small cornpone town of Cathage in East Texas, where he immediately becomes the figure of social graces, exuding an ironic level of comfort from residents dealing with the loss of a loved one; the town knows Bernie will be there to commiserate with, and more notoriously, a solid deal on their deceased one' s terrestrial humble abode. Needless to say, Bernie is a town favorite--respected, idolized, and considered valuable to the communal whole. Though, Bernie is something of a bachelor as well. With his high social status, and flintlike sense of self-worth from being of consequential usefulness by endless scores of people, Bernie decides it's time to enter into a relationship that is more quid pro quo--but is he ever wrong. He begins meeting/dating Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a sour-mouthed widow of cold embraces, who also happens to be the town's most affluent member. After runs of extravagance vacationing, and copious amounts of arguing, the film follows with Bernie on trial. It is from this point, that the offbeat, dark dramedy really picks up, as Linklater's atypical movie becomes even more peculiar, albeit rewarding, assuming the form of a semi-mockumentary that includes interviews from actual local witnesses with a loose script who know the couple, as well as professional actors who "claimed" they knew the couple. Either way, it is know one else but the mere townspeople that are the most fascinating,--outright, vivid, profane, hilarious, and insightful--connecting audiences with a sense of realism that is as effective and contributing to the film's plot, as astonishing it is just to take in. So, is Jack Black not good as Bernie Tiede? Absolutely, he is. Black modulates the most careful restraint he has ever produced in a film thus far. Everything from his 1990's visage--comb-over and stache and his expandable gold watch--to his persnickety stride and fluttery hands, is greatly enjoyable to observe. However, after a while, though not readily, Black's adroitness shifts to self-enchantment, though he does look as if he is having a great time on-screen. Similarly, McConaughey, playing the town's district attorney, Danny Buck, flirts with his character's limits a bit too far, which looks like a constant tomfoolery of self-parody; while charmful and expectedly charismatic, his portrayal of Danny Buck can't be taken seriously. As for MacLaine's Marjorie, she does a commendable job, as she plays the nefariously querulous widow primly, although her character is considerably less enjoyable to side with; merciless and unfunny. But, one can't discredit her work because of who she plays; her various nuances make for an oxymoronic quality that is delightful to watch (her acting job) and equally vexatious to endure. Ultimately, "Bernie" hits its highest marks when its inner-story is digressed to ephemerally comedic, straight-to-the-camera remarks made by the townsfolk, that help give the audience an internal "say" in who was actually right and who was wrong. Further, while the townsfolk, particularly the real ones, do show bias in their "opinions' regarding the matter, their comments help steer audiences in the right direction to deduce the situation's happenings. Although everyone seems to have an opinion, one of the film's underlying issues is that its director/writer, Linklater, too, doesn't know, and Black's Bernie is just as clueless. That is, the townsfolk are the only sources of knowing...at all; this then, adds to the degree and weight of their words. What emanates in "Bernie," is an almost elegiac meditation, with some atypical laughs, of an underrated hero who just happened to meet the wrong person and the wrong place, without him every knowing such could ever happen. Black's Bernie, is a slowly-winding arrow that surges ahead much farther than aimed. 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
  4. May 25, 2012
    10
    "Bernie" is a laugh-out-loud black comedy based on a true story that's stranger than fiction. Jack Black deserves a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Bernie Tiede, an overly benevolent Christian philanthropist. His speech, mannerisms and lines are perfectly delivered and fit excellently, which can be credited in part to the superb writing and fantastic co-starts. The"Bernie" is a laugh-out-loud black comedy based on a true story that's stranger than fiction. Jack Black deserves a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Bernie Tiede, an overly benevolent Christian philanthropist. His speech, mannerisms and lines are perfectly delivered and fit excellently, which can be credited in part to the superb writing and fantastic co-starts. The ridiculousness of the story, the fact that most of it is true, and the incredible quality of the acting, writing and directing make this film the best I have seen all year. A must-see flick that is enjoyable in every aspect. Expand
  5. May 13, 2012
    9
    Jack Black was born to play Bernie Tiede, the town Funeral Director in Carthage, Texas. He plays the guy who comes to town and steals all the old ladies hearts to perfection. He sings pretty good also which he showcases many times throughout the film. He befriends the town's most hated woman (played deliciously by Shirley MacClaine), then she takes complete control over him causing himJack Black was born to play Bernie Tiede, the town Funeral Director in Carthage, Texas. He plays the guy who comes to town and steals all the old ladies hearts to perfection. He sings pretty good also which he showcases many times throughout the film. He befriends the town's most hated woman (played deliciously by Shirley MacClaine), then she takes complete control over him causing him to, well, you have to see it for yourself. I haven't attended a film where the entire audience was involved and laughing like this in a long time. Most of the theater clapped at the end and stayed for the entire end of the credits. The interviews with all the town's inhabitants are hilarious. Matthew McConaughey hams it up as the local D.A. I really enjoyed this quirky, campy film. Collapse
  6. 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 comfortsJack 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
  7. Aug 10, 2012
    8
    Jack Balck does a great job in an understated role that deserves awards-season attention, as the humor here is simple and derived from the characters in this hilarious, top-notch dark comedy.
  8. May 25, 2012
    10
    Bizarre, dramatic, hilarious and just overall great. All the actors, especially Jack Black, are unbelievably good. Definitely see this - you will not regret it.
  9. Aug 20, 2012
    8
    This delightful film by Richard Linklater has been under the radar and it's a shame, because it's a hoot. It's a reality-based tale about a prissy assistant funeral director (Jack Black), who befriends a rich, mean old widow (Shirley Maclaine) and ends up killing her. The tale is told with some dialogue and lots of hilarious interviews with local residents (some of whom are real and someThis delightful film by Richard Linklater has been under the radar and it's a shame, because it's a hoot. It's a reality-based tale about a prissy assistant funeral director (Jack Black), who befriends a rich, mean old widow (Shirley Maclaine) and ends up killing her. The tale is told with some dialogue and lots of hilarious interviews with local residents (some of whom are real and some are actors). I'm not a Black fan, but there's none of his over-the-top antics in this quiet portrayal. Matthew McConaughey shows up in a non-glamourous role as the prosecutor. I doubt it'll be in town long because it's available on DVD 9/21/12, but it's lots of fun on any format. Stay thru the credits for additional soundbites. Expand
  10. Jun 14, 2012
    9
    Great true story, played well by the main characters (Jack Black and Shirley McLaine). The profiles of the characters would make a good study paper for psychology students.
  11. Jun 5, 2012
    8
    Never say never is the old cry and I remember, after seeing â
  12. May 29, 2012
    9
    As a convicted human being for life and an escaped Texan, this film told it all. It captured a big slice of small town life - its prejudices, its judgments, its characters. brilliant.
  13. Aug 11, 2012
    9
    I am not usually a big fan of Black
  14. Apr 30, 2012
    7
    If you're in the right mood, you'll laugh your ass off in this movie. I was in the right mood. The constant cut-aways from the action to interview the townsfolk really make the film. Brilliant casting. Black is great, as usual, but it's the people of this little Texas town that make it a film to remember.
  15. Lyn
    Dec 30, 2012
    9
    I guess Jack Black is going to be ignored at awards time in favor of guys like Afleck. But Black's performance here is amazing -- funny, sad, musical, bizarre, and he's playing a real person you get a glimpse of at the end of the film! The quasi-documentary approach here works well and is really enjoyable.
  16. Feb 18, 2015
    9
    A black comedy that is both surprisingly funny and charming. At times it is even heart-warming. It's almost baffling to even consider the movie being this enjoyable when it's plot is based on true events. However it is. Defying the darkness of the events it's based on and becoming a darkly funny, a great murder story, and smart satire.

    The key to the movies success outside of smart
    A black comedy that is both surprisingly funny and charming. At times it is even heart-warming. It's almost baffling to even consider the movie being this enjoyable when it's plot is based on true events. However it is. Defying the darkness of the events it's based on and becoming a darkly funny, a great murder story, and smart satire.

    The key to the movies success outside of smart direction is a stand out performance by Jack Black. Not only does he play his character fascinatingly, with odd little quirks and a complex personality, but also so lifelike. Black makes his interpretation of the individual come to life.

    The same can be said for the entire cast. Their characters might be goofy, but they aren't absurd. It's not hard to see that they are playing characters who are real life people.

    The actual case is likely to be the most divisive aspect of the movie. Does the movie perhaps portray Bernie in a more favorable light do to bias? I really can't say. The fact that the movie is based on a true story (not entirely sure on how accurate) it puts the film in some murky territory. Yes the character is presented as likable, but murder is murder right?

    Whether or not aspects of the case were changed to make Bernie more appealing I honestly do not know. However even if they were it doesn't change the enjoyment I had with this movie. It's a brilliantly funny black comedy with a standout, excellent performance from Jack Black. One I highly recommend viewing.

    I give the movie a 9.1/10.
    Expand
  17. Aug 15, 2014
    7
    Based loosely on a true story 'Bernie' is the story of Bernie Tiede, a much loved mortician (sorry, funeral director) in a small Texan town.

    Made in an almost documentary like fashion with constant cutaways to the townsfolk, who are more than happy to share their thoughts 'Bernie', while not exactly laugh out loud funny, retains a dark sense of humour throughout. The entire cast does a
    Based loosely on a true story 'Bernie' is the story of Bernie Tiede, a much loved mortician (sorry, funeral director) in a small Texan town.

    Made in an almost documentary like fashion with constant cutaways to the townsfolk, who are more than happy to share their thoughts 'Bernie', while not exactly laugh out loud funny, retains a dark sense of humour throughout. The entire cast does a good job with an, unusually restrained, Jack Black in particular putting in a great performance.

    Subsequent reading has lead me to question just how accurate a portrayal of events this is but it is a good watch nonetheless.
    Expand
  18. Mar 11, 2013
    8
    I didn't know the story, and was surprised by the twist. An enjoyable and understated film full of great characters. Jack Black gives a superlative performance.
  19. Nov 12, 2012
    8
    Who knew that Jack Black had that in him!? Playing the title character, Black is like nothing you've ever seen from him before. He's pitch perfect, as is -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- Matthew McCan'tact. Just stunning performances by these men. I highly recommend this movie. If you like any of Christopher Guest's best work, I think you'll dig Bernie.
  20. Jun 29, 2013
    8
    This film stars J.Black, which is enough for me to watch any film, and I honestly think its his best performance to date. I first watched this movie on Netflix without much knowledge of its plot. This allowed me to truly enjoy the film, without any expectations.
  21. Dec 23, 2012
    8
    It's a sort of dark comedy with American realism and touching emotion thrown into the mix.
  22. Sep 1, 2014
    7
    Jack Black's performance as Bernie makes us not only disregard his murder but feel inspired. Bernie is a unique piece of filmmaking that earns the rare achievement of being a successful black comedy.
  23. Aug 28, 2012
    8
    Jack Black really transforms into the title character in 'Bernie', a darkly comic crime film by Richard Linklater that is his best film since 'Before Sunset'. Black is so admirably subtle and controlled in his performance that I wish he had dived into dramatic territory sooner. As far as supporting roles go, I am not usually a fan of Matthew McConaughey, but he won me over in what isJack Black really transforms into the title character in 'Bernie', a darkly comic crime film by Richard Linklater that is his best film since 'Before Sunset'. Black is so admirably subtle and controlled in his performance that I wish he had dived into dramatic territory sooner. As far as supporting roles go, I am not usually a fan of Matthew McConaughey, but he won me over in what is probably his best performance to date as well and Shirley Maclaine is typically great as the cold-hearted **** of Carthage. Also, the semi-scripted roles of the townspeople playing themselves are very funny. Linklater so easily empathises us with Bernie that we begin to side with the townsfolk too and when the ending comes about, there is some melancholy to be felt. The shot near the end where the real-life Bernie meets with Jack Black to talk is also nicely affecting and Black's portrayal of him is by far the performance of the year so far for me. Great movie. Expand
  24. Aug 4, 2015
    8
    A very solid film with good performances from the cast. The style was also quite impressive because of the way that the entire film was formatted like a TV documentary.
  25. 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 hisIt 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
  26. 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.
  27. Jan 14, 2013
    8
    A really great little film. Jack Black is terrific; it's for sure the best performance of his career, but i don't think I was surprised by how great he truly was in this. He's one of the most underrated actors out there and this performance really shows that. It sort of reminded me of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. McConaughey's win streak continues...he's really been on fire the pastA really great little film. Jack Black is terrific; it's for sure the best performance of his career, but i don't think I was surprised by how great he truly was in this. He's one of the most underrated actors out there and this performance really shows that. It sort of reminded me of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. McConaughey's win streak continues...he's really been on fire the past few years. Good script, great movie! Expand
  28. Jun 14, 2014
    8
    It's a calm, slow paced comedy, that has its bluntness and absurdity to thank for, otherwise it would be a ridiculous thriller. Black's subdued performance as the Tiede in an emotional roller coaster is far beyond what I thought his potential was. McConaughey and McClaine both work with comedic supporting roles. All the laughs in this film comes from the fact that this is a true story,It's a calm, slow paced comedy, that has its bluntness and absurdity to thank for, otherwise it would be a ridiculous thriller. Black's subdued performance as the Tiede in an emotional roller coaster is far beyond what I thought his potential was. McConaughey and McClaine both work with comedic supporting roles. All the laughs in this film comes from the fact that this is a true story, which you'd never believe. Expand
  29. Sep 24, 2013
    8
    Bernie is a quirky, weird, off-kilter move with an overall sweetness. Jack Black plays Bernie up so that he is a very likable character, even for what goes on about halfway through the film. Linklater has created a sort of weird, cinematic fantasy that is very rare in film. I can't quite explain it.
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: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?