Metascore
75

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

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 122 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • 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 surpriseIn 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
Watch On
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: 34 out of 41
  2. Negative: 4 out of 41
  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. Collapse
  2. 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 studyGreat 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. Expand
  3. 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 friendJack 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
  4. 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 pitchWho 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. Expand
  5. 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"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
  6. 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 toIf 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. 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?? Therethat 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 41 User Reviews

Trailers

Related Articles

  1. The Best and Worst Movies of 2012

    The Best and Worst Movies of 2012 Image
    Published: January 7, 2013
    Inside, you'll find our final rankings of the best and worst films of the past year, overall and by individual genre.