The tale of Bernie is a strange one and a tragic one. More so when you realize it is based on a true story.
I SAID BASED. Apparently there was large support from the actual town of Carthage, Texas to not let the film be made there, as a lot of people either felt like they were being made fun of, or though Bernie was a creepy bad man. But you know, it is just a similar story, with a lot weirder stuff going on in the film. So take it with a grain of salt.
Or else this man will come into your room at night and host your funeral!!!
Bernie (Jack Black) is a weird man. He may be gay, but he loves Jesus and is super Christian, so that is probably not true[Editor’s note: Movie logic, not mine.]. He became a funeral director, and knows the proper way to liven up a corpse for the big day. Originally from Louisiana, he has moved to small town Carthage, Texas, where he immediately strives to become a pillar in the community. He sings, he acts, he gives gifts, he mourns, he funeral directs, he goes above and beyond the call of duty every time. EVERYONE loves him.
Mostly. Not Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) who just had her husband pass away. But she hates everyone, and everyone hates her back. But she is super rich, and keeps it all to herself. Two of her grandchildren even tried to sue for some trust fund! What gives? Despite all this, Bernie does his best to get her to cheer up, and is eventually welcome into her grace. She isn’t that bad, just gotta give her a chance!
Eventually they start doing everything together. Trips around the world, shows, just general shopping and hanging out. He is living the life. She begins to let him handle her affairs to, having access to all of her funds and stuff, so she doesn’t have to do it. But she also gets more protective. She starts treating him worse and worse, limiting his schedule and life, making him direct less funerals, and even sing less at church! It’d be a shame if one day Bernie just snapped and shot old Marjorie in the back. It’d be worse if he freaked out, didn’t know what to do, and decide to hide the body in the house and pretend she was still alive. For months. Yeah, that would be bad.
A chainsaw statue? That does sound like a great investment.
Why spoil most of the movie? Ehh, true story. I knew going into it that Bernie killed some old lady, and kept it a secret. But knowing that ahead of time didn’t ruin it at all for me. What made this movie something special was the large cast of characters. Instead of a narrator, the story is basically narrated by a large group of townsfolk that are retelling the events and their thoughts on the matter. Sort of in a documentary or realty show like format, they are talking straight to the camera and sitting in a home or shop or office, and they are phenomenal. They add so much depth and character to the movie, they are one of the best “greek choruses” I have ever seen.
Not to take away from the main cast of actors. McConaughey did what he always does. Jack Black really enveloped himself in this character, and if you like to hear him sing, you get to do it quite a bit. Mostly religious songs too! Shirley MacLaine did a lot with her body language before she was talkative, also doing a nice job.
And it is weird. Quirky as shit. I thought it was a well done darker comedy, and will probably buy it someday.