Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Working in the funeral industry, I felt it was only appropriate to catch a movie about a funeral director.

Bernie is about, well, a man named Bernie. Played by Jack Black, he's a small-town funeral director with a knack for comforting grieving families. After the death of her husband, he becomes a constant companion to Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine). A cold and callous old woman, she has few friends in the town and has ostracized many in her family, but she takes quickly to the kindness that Bernie shows her. She eventually begins to take advantage of his kindness, forcing him to change his life to spend time with her and practically making him her slave. Eventually he's driven over the edge and has to get rid of her. She "disappears" for awhile, fueling speculation around the town. Although they believe he had a hand in her demise, many people in the town are sympathetic to Bernie, due to his personable nature and everyone's distaste for Marjorie. Only the town DA, Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughy), feels that Bernie should serve his due time and goes to great lengths to ensure that it happens.

The movie contained some expected delights, but also some surprises. Shirley MacLaine is incredible (I've loved her ever since seeing What a Way to Go! as a little girl), and she was great here. She was a perfect conniving old lady! Matthew McConaughy was good, too. I tend to make assumptions about the type of work he does, regardless of how many films I see him in, but he's an extremely versatile actor. Most surprising was Jack Black, who showed that he has the potential to be more versatile than his scope of work would suggest. I think the film was a great turn for him. The biggest delight, though, were the townspeople. The movie is based on a real story and the actual townspeople provided monologues on Bernie, Marjorie and how they felt about the whole situation. It made the whole movie feel a bit more down to earth.

Mini soundtrack:

Jack Black - "Love Lifted Me"

Bing Crosby - "Beautiful Dreamer"

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