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Movie Review: Bernie

Tim Stevens image

Tim Stevens wrote this review 4 years and 5 months ago

1     0

In his latest film ‘BERNIE”, Jack Black play’s a mortician who befriends a despised wealthy widow in a Texas town.  Bernie is later accused of murdering her and covering up the crime, all the while, continuing to enjoy a lavish new lifestyle, spreading good cheer throughout the community.  You guessed it, it’s a comedy.  The unfortunate circumstance around this particular story, is it is all true.  


Jack Black is always very animated in his roles, allowing his wit and charm to come across the screen and engage the viewer.  This film however was somewhat of a disappointment.  The story itself, as least as interpreted by the director, never took full advantage of Mr. Black’s comedic talent, although it did give him an opportunity to showcase his singing capabilities and his appreciation for musical theater. Performances by both Shirley McLaine and Matthew McConuaghey seemed flat and out of place. In Ms. McLaine’s case, although she is betrayed as being a heinous and horrible widow, Marjorie Nugent, you see elements of kindness and gentle disposition come through.  At some point in the film, Marjorie becomes more controlling and manipulative of Bernie’s time, but there are no impending clues to support the dramatic change in the relationship.  In fact, you could probably envision the relationship going just as easily the other way.  As the local District Attorney, Matthew McConaughey is cast as a quirky, odd character with oversized glasses.  Less believable, as he seems to struggle to portray a caricature of what an unsophisticated, behind the times lawyer, in a small town, might behave like.  Unfortunately, I think we have all seen him play far too many smart attorneys, in dramatic roles, to allow us to disconnect the two types of characters. Director, Richard Linklater does an excellent job early in the film by portraying, in a documentary style, some of the local folks telling the back story around “BERNIE”.  However, as entertaining as it was in the beginning, it seemed to get sparser as we went through the balance of the film, leaving you to piece together some of the changes.  (Spoiler Alert) The film ends on a flat note with Bernie being convicted of murdering Marjorie, during which the whole town continues to support him.  The best way to describe this film is that it lacked commitment.  If you commit to the story, then it’s not a comedy and shouldn’t be portrayed that way.  If you commit to the comedy, then don’t worry about being true to the facts and have some fun with it. Don’t do both.



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