… for moviegoers that don't LIKE everything ….
Texas is more than a state, it’s a “character” in Richard Linklater’s film BERNIE starring Jack Black in the title role. And on top of that it’s hard to tell the Hollywood actors from the real-life “characters” in this darkly funny blend of documentary-style testimonials with a tight comic ensemble featuring JB, Matthew McConaughey, & the legendary Shirley MacLaine (age 75+ & still alive & kickin).
My favorite part of the movie was when a “real local” describes the state of Texas as if it were ait’s own country with feuding factions North, South, East, & West. Director Richard Linklator adds to the funny diatribe by inserting an animated map that follows the old timer’s lead, finally ending with the one Liberal area of the state: The “Peoples” Republic of Austin (I just about coughed up my popcorn).
BERNIE is a true-ish story about a guy so popular in town that when he finally murders the meanest person in town nobody wants to convict him. That leaves the District Attorney (played by McConaughey) to play legal strategy vs. local celebrity in the vain hope of delivering the last laugh.
I won’t spoil the story’s ending (even though it’s based on a well-publicized true story), but I will warn you to stay AFTER the main action for the credits, coda, and a slew of funny outtakes!.
As for the movie, it may not be for all tastes with its blackly comic rendition of small-town life, along with a reserved Jack Black (“Nacho Libre”) playing a light in the loafers asst. funeral director instead of his normally over-the-top characterizations that his fans are familiar with.
One universal lesson the film does offer is don’t be hateful in a small town, there ARE repercussions. Anyway, it’s on DVD and it’s got a couple SPIRIT noms so I hope it strikes you as humorous as it did me (folks surrounding Carthage,TX may not be so kind).
Score: 3-1/4 stars (out of 4) – Reviewed by Gary Cabana (a not-so-Grumpy Old Critic)
Additional info for cinephiles:
BERNIE [(2011)USA/2012 release/MillenniumEnt./Rated PG-13] – (*DVD available from Aug. 21, 2012)
Directed & Co-written by Richard Linklater
Writer: Skip Hollandsworth (Based on his article in Texas Monthly)
Jack Black … Bernie Tiede (mortician)
Shirley MacLaine … Marjorie Nugent (wealthy widow)
Matthew McConaughey … Danny Buck (District Atty.)
Original Music: Graham Reynolds
Director of photography: Dick Pope
Editors: Sandra Adair
Rick Dial … Don Leggett (Bernie’s Boss)
Brady Coleman … Scrappy Holmes
Richard Robichaux … Lloyd Hornbuckle
Brandon Smith … Sheriff Huckabee
Larry Jack Dotson … Rev. Woodard
Mathew Greer … Carl
Marjorie Dome … Townsperson
Tim Cariker … Townsperson
Fern Luker … Townsperson
Jack Payne … Townsperson
Chris Humphrey … Townsperson
Ann Reeves … Townsperson
Kay Epperson … Townsperson
Kay McConaughey … Townsperson