You wouldn’t think that comedy, documentary, and a true story of murder would go together to create a good movie but in this case it actually does.
Bernie is the true story of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), much beloved mortician of Carthage, Texas who in 1996 murdered wealthy widow, Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). It’s also about the town that loved him so much they supported him even after discovering this fact.
The movie is filmed mostly in documentary style including interviews from many of the real-life residents of Carthage. We learn about Bernie and how good a mortician, church member, and friend he was to everyone. Marjorie Nugent on the other hand is presented as a evil shrew that frankly no one seems to care is gone, even though she was murdered. Part of the comedy part of this comedy/drama comes with Bernie just being himself, the effeminate man-child, generous friend, talented singer, and overly caring individual who is also a conniving, creative, and savvy business man. What’s an act and what is the real Bernie? That’s for you and a jury to decide.
The best part of the movie is the interviews with the townspeople. Most are “just folks” and speak their minds not caring what anyone thinks. This is where a lot of comedy comes from.
I’m sure the family of the victim probably is not thrilled with their loved one’s portrayal or that the situation is made to seem in anyway humorous. But if I went into this not thinking that it was a true story I would think it’s a brilliant piece of dark comedy.
And Jack Black’s singing in it is not bad either.