Publication: The Stranger
Author: Schmader, David
Date published: May 30, 2012
Language: English
PMID: 59135
Journal code: STRR


Based on a true story, Bernie tells the tale of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a thirtysomething funeral director in Carthage, Texas, whose boundless joie de vivre and appropriately closeted homosexuality have endeared him to what seems like the entirety of the small East Texas town. One holdout: the bitter octogenarian millionaire Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), widely feared as the crustiest old bitch in town-until Bernie doggedly melts her heart, forging a friendship that turns into something like marriage before Marjorie's inexhaustible bitchiness drives sweet, devoted Bernie to abruptly shut her up for good. Much of Bernie's charm comes from the cast, roughly half of whom are Hollywood professionals (including Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey), while the rest are regular people-residents of Carthage who knew Bernie Tiede and Marjorie Nugent, effectively playing themselves as talking heads in a documentary. This is a dicey-sounding proposition, blending real-life folks with movie stars as showy as Black and MacLaine, but somehow it works beautifully. Leading the charge and better than anyone is Jack Black, who gives a performance that will revolutionize your opinion of Jack Black. (DAVID SCHMADER)

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