In a world of board games turned into poor alien invasion movies, mixed with less than perfect off-color satire about dictatorships, there is a movie well worth seeing this weekend; Bernie.
In a story based on true events, Bernie stars Jack Black as Bernie Tiede. Set in the 90’s, he’s a Texas small town funeral director who seems to have a perfect halo over his head. Bernie is friends with everyone, always willing to help and an all around good guy. So good, he befriends Marjorie (Shirley McClaine,) the one old lady in town that everyone hates. He treats her with the utmost respect and honor until her negative persuasions influence him to do something bad.
Bernie is a real life dark comedy that plays out beautifully because its characters are fascinating to watch. Nailing the Texas persona on the head, the entire cast make this a treat as they recall the events leading up to Bernie turning a gun on his new best friend. Matthew McConaughey plays District Attorney Danny Buck, the man trying to convince everyone that Bernie has a dark side.
As the story plays out, it was refreshing to see unknowns driving the plot forward. Black, McClaine and McConaughey all have enough quirky senses that their performances each shine brightly, but I think the real treat is the characters they are surrounded with. If you can find comedy in the Texas drawl, you won’t stop smiling.
Also, you’re not hit over the head, but rather ease into the low-key story, which again, is a nice change from battleship invading aliens. Deservingly mellowed credit goes to Director Richard Linklater, who also delivered on Dazed and Confused and the similarly paced Before Sunrise/After Sunset combo.
Though fans of Jack Black will see hints of him about to break into his sillier modes, he plays the straight man to a perfect T. Black Gold. Texas Tea.
I guarantee this film would have been received to roaring applause if it were shown at the Wisconsin Film Festival. Indie lovers will adore it.