Sunday, April 29, 2012


Jack Black is terrific … in his portrait of real-life character, Bernie Tiede, a small-town assistant mortician who’s a bit dandified, a determined self-guided PR machine who quickly becomes the town’s darling in his care for the deceased and their families, and especially the darling of all the “little old ladies.” 

He joins the local church and becomes a song-leader.

He lives humbly and gives away most everything.

He does a post-death visit on the town’s meanest and richest lady, Marjorie Nugent, played skillfully by Shirley MacLaine. Slowly, she warms to Bernie’s kindness and soon they become an inseparable couple, he inviting her to cultural events, and she, taking him along on her travels around the world. 

At some point in time, her meanness, her neediness, overwhelms the relationship and Bernie becomes a lapdog. She convinces him to go part-time in the funeral home and become her personal servant. She includes him in her considerable financial empire and though Bernie enjoys first-class travel and fine hotels, he donates huge sums to the community, helping the local church and making life a little easier for lots of folks.

Bernie is a generous man, with Marjorie’s money ...

You’ll have to see the movie for the rest of the story.

Set in East Texas, with a wonderful ensemble cast and lots of local actors with their marvelous East Texas expressions of life, it’s a “small” movie, wonderfully executed by director Richard Linklater.

Cast members include Matthew McConaughey who portrays “country lawyer” and Carthage, TX prosecutor, Danny Buck Davidson, with a fine cameo appearance of McConaughey’s mother, Kay McCabe (not credited on IMDB, but found here).

Linklater tells the story comedically, while offering a generous respect for the folks, mores and faith of this small Texas town.

It’s a “dark comedy” pulled off successfully, rarely accomplished even in more ambitious films. Hats off to the director, of course, but to the screen-writer, Skip Hollandsworth for a deft and well-paced story, allowing a variety of characters to emerge in this economically presented tale. Cinematography and music are equally well done.

Wait for Neflix?

I dont’ think so.

See it in a theater, grab some popcorn and enjoy this jewel of film … and be sure to stay for the credits!