User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 111 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 99 out of 111
  2. Negative: 7 out of 111

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  1. 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.
  2. 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
    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
  3. Aug 10, 2014
    7
    Bernie is a very funny movie if you're familiar with Texas culture. It provides some interesting social commentary with a unique twist from the documentary film-making style mixed with actor performances. I wouldn't recommend it as an incredible film, but it's definitely worth watching if the opportunity arises. Matthew Mcconaughey's performance was fairly dry, but Jack Black's singing was incredible. Expand
  4. 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, which you'd never believe. Expand
  5. May 3, 2014
    5
    While Bernie's script contains some dialogue that doesn't truly fit with the pleasant scenery of Carthage, TX, the film also contains a very genuine template and very earnest acting talent that is undeniable.
  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. Feb 6, 2014
    6
    Bernie is a film that lives and dies on Jack Black's blade. Those who want Black to be no more than a bumbling fat man, will find no enjoyment in this film for this is Black's attempt to be a little something more and kudos on his effort it is enjoyable to watch him. Linklater continues to push his attempts at being different and I happy to see him trying to work around the system as best he can. As for McConaughey this is the performance that brought a man's career back from the dead and it is always a pleasure to see an actor prove you wrong.
    What makes the film entertaining is sadly what also hurts it cinematically and this is the interviews and cuts with the locals.
    The film if one is into dark comedies should warrant an entertainment value of a 7.5, but on the Poe Scale it is a 6.5.

    Acting: 1/2
    Cinematography: 1/2
    Editing: 1.5/2
    Effects and Design 1/2
    Writing: 2/2
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  8. Jan 12, 2014
    8
    It's a good movie, but I can't for the life of me tell you why. Both the story and the production seem a little indecisive about how exactly they want to develop. There aren't any of the stereotypical cues that tell us when the film wants to be funny and when it's meant to be dark, but maybe that's the point. It's charming, overall, and Jack Black is surprisingly smooth in a fairly serious role that plays brilliantly off of Shirley McLaine's performance. Give it a shot - you probably won't love it, but it's too charming to hate. Expand
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Jun 25, 2013
    4
    This film came as a surprise to me. A disappointing surprise. First of all the film is not a comedy and i expected much more for the director of School of Rock. The film is based on true events but the movie is still bad. I saw the good reviews and I thought that it would be funny as hell as Jack Black was on the cast. Jack Black impressed me with his magnificent performance. That's the best thing on that film ,despite the fact I watched that movie in order to laugh.This is certainly on of the worst films of 2012 and it looked more like a documentary or a reality -tv show. It did not seem like a movie. Thumbs up ONLY for Jack Black. 4/10 for that reason because only his performance is extraordinary. Expand
  13. May 10, 2013
    5
    Way overrated. There are a couple of amusing moments, but it's just pointless overall. It' drags the least important scenes on forever. Jack Black is the movie's anchor and is funnier in the role than anyone else could probably be but the movie surrounding him is just so... boring. It could have been hilarious, but is far from it. Not recommended.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 past few years. Good script, great movie! Expand
  16. 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.
  17. Dec 23, 2012
    8
    It's a sort of dark comedy with American realism and touching emotion thrown into the mix.
  18. Nov 18, 2012
    3
    Long and boring. It was hard to get through the whole thing really. A few scattered funny parts, but not worth my time. .
  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. 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.
  21. Sep 4, 2012
    1
    Very boring movie. Some amusing scenes but overall, very slow-paced and uninteresting. Jack Black does do a great job portraying a character out of his usual routine but the movie offers very little to hold your attention and keep from dozing off.
  22. 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 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.
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  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 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 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 sit through jack blacks worst movie he's ever created. No comedy at all and it sukz ballz!!!!!!!!!!! bALLZ!!
  25. 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 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
  26. 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
  27. Aug 11, 2012
    9
    I am not usually a big fan of Black
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Jun 5, 2012
    8
    Never say never is the old cry and I remember, after seeing â
  31. 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
  32. May 29, 2012
    6
    This film was not dark enough for me. I found it biased toward the Bernie character as it skirted the issue of homosexuality and I did not believe at all his excuse for killing the 81 year old woman. The movie would have been more appealing if it had been slightly more detailed and graphic. I wanted to know more about the relationship not just skimming the surface. I did enjoy the approach of using the town people to tell the story but that make it more of a light comedy not a dark comedy. Still, it intrigued me enough to go home and search the internet for information on the murder. I side with the district attorney that Bernie is not such a harmless guy. Original but it could have been so much better. Expand
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. 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 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
  36. 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.
  37. 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 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. Expand
  38. 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.
  39. 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, 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. Collapse
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?