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4.0 out of 5 stars
Bernie [DVD] [2011]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 October 2013
I was told this film was a bit like Harold & Maude. I suppose it resembled it a bit, but it didn't have the same manic sense of humour. If you film a true story, you have to fit it to reality, and in this case it dragged at some points. Jack Black puts in a fine performance and the real 'neighbours' do the job very well. It's also a film about small town Texas. I suppose it's almost a documentary.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a movie based on a true story. What is unfortunate is that the DVD cover write up assumes that you are familiar with the story and explains the entire plot. Bernie (Jack Black) is a nice guy who hangs wallpaper, does tax returns, directs the choir, directs plays, does needlepoint and makes curtains. He is also the town's assistant funeral director...one that doesn't hang out with girls.

Bernie befriends Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) a rich mean woman hated by the town and her own family. The movie is done similar to "Broadway Danny Rose" in that part of it is a mock docu-drama with some funny locals. Jack Black does not come across as someone from East Texas. I doubted the sincerity of Bernie because they tried to make him a little too cute and humorous. That said, it did make the film more entertaining which is what counts in the long run.

There were very few laugh out loud moments, but many moments that made me smile. The trial at the end of the film was far too short and a missed opportunity for some comedic moments. The film is witty and entertaining. For those of you with poor eyesight, that is Matthew McConaughey on the poorly designed DVD cover and not Chevy Chase.

Parental Guide: 1 F-Bomb that I recall, no sex or nudity.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2013
This is a brilliantly conceived non-comedy from Richard Linklater, who remains one of American cinema's most interesting leftfield filmmakers. I call it a non-comedy because it doesn't have any jokes, and there's a brutal murder case at its core, and yet it's very, very funny. It feels like something that could have emerged in the mid-1990s, after Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith (and Linklater himself) blazed a trail for a slew of sharply scripted US indies.

The story, based on a true one, is of a morally pure mortician named Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), who has a predilection for befriending vulnerable old ladies in the local community. When he meets Marjorie Nugent (a sour-faced Shirley MacLaine), he meets his match. Her bullying pushes him to a moment of murderous madness. The film is staged like a documentary, except the talking heads exist in the same universe as the reconstructions. It works superbly.

Black, who previously worked with Linklater on the more conventional School of Rock, gives his most skilful and subtle performance to date. It's all about the lack of mugging; the lack of irony. He plays Bernie as a man bulging with goodness: 18 stone drifting angelically across the pristine paving stones of Carthage, all soft humming sun and bungalows, whose North African namesake was once the centre of the world.

The film has much to say about closed communities, namely the heightened tendency to seek to understand the moral and the kindly, and the paradoxical tendency to dehumanise and dismiss the cruel. We know everything about Bernie - he is fully rationalised by the sycophantic townsfolk - but nothing of Marjorie. The result is a telling insight into small town social politics.

Linklater somehow successfully rides the ridge between mockery and aggrandisement. It's testament to his skill as an auteur that by the end such serious subject matter can feel significantly explored without the sunny disposition of the title character being lost behind the cloud of death. It's a film about the USA's favourite pastimes, gun-killing and hero-worshipping, and it proves that when it comes to self-analysis, American filmmakers do it best.
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on 9 December 2014
An unusual Jack Black performance but not disappointing. This story is not the usual Jack-manic performance and tells the true story of a calm and well respected man who is pushed over the edge.

Comparatively low key but not dull. I kept expecting more of a comical chemistry between Jack and Shirley MacLaine but the film took more of a serious, true-life tone. Enjoyable watch.
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on 25 March 2014
This movie is a must for Jack Black fans.
His performance is truly unique and outstanding.
He sings, dances and directs funerals.
But it's one funeral in particular, which is about to change his life forever and not necessarily for best.

Based on a true story, about an overbearing and bossy widow and a popular funeral director who is just too nice.
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on 8 June 2014
A fact based story about small town Texas, with the film interspersed with real to camera accounts from the townsfolk. A little bit of a departure for Jack Black, but just goes to prove his ability to diversify. What he does showcase is his great singing voice. While not a comedy, there are some comedic moments as well as proper heart felt moments.
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on 24 October 2013
The types portrayed are not quite my cup of tea, but the film is engaging and quirky- another little Linlater gem. And for those to whom this may be an issue, Jack Black is kept well under control, going to town in the name part- didn't know he had it in him ( and he has a singing voice, too) Really caught me by surprise.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2014
Billed as a jet black comedy, this is actually a fairly straightforward telling of a real-life event and, as such, comes off as neither especially funny nor as shocking as the hype suggests. Certainly, what happened was pretty awful but the tone of the film is quite subdued and somehow lessens the impact of the events. Jack Black puts in a good straight performance but the other characters are oddly exaggerated by comparison. What you do not realise (unless you watch the featurette in the DVD extras) is that many of the minor players are not actors but real residents of the town the film is set in. In fact, it was only when I watched the mini-documentary featurette of the real story that the true absurdity of the story really became clear.
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on 29 August 2014
Amazing character acting from Jack Black here. I can see why he goes for the big pay-day with the likes of Gullivers Travels, but there really is a lot to this guy as an actor. A funny and tragic tale of a kind but lonely man.
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on 14 May 2014
DVD arrived promptly, nicely packaged and great condition. Even though the actual story line ( a true one!) is very sad, Jack Black is brilliant ; a very enjoyable black comedy and acting throughout is superb.
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