Bernie It sounds like a clever idea: Why not let firsthand witnesses narrate a movie about the stranger-than-fiction friendship between Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a nasty… Bernie It sounds like a clever idea: Why not let firsthand witnesses narrate a movie about the stranger-than-fiction friendship between Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a nasty… 2012-04-27 PG-13 PT104M Comedy Jack Black Shirley MacLaine Matthew McConaughey Millenium Entertainment
Movie Review

Bernie (2012)

MPAA Rating: PG-13
LOVE KILLS Shirley MacLaine as ''Marjorie Nugent'' and Jack Black as ''Bernie Tiede'' in Bernie
Image credit: Deana Newcomb
LOVE KILLS Shirley MacLaine as ''Marjorie Nugent'' and Jack Black as ''Bernie Tiede'' in Bernie
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Limited Release: Apr 27, 2012; Rated: PG-13; Length: 104 Minutes; Genre: Comedy; With: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey; Distributor: Millenium Entertainment

It sounds like a clever idea: Why not let firsthand witnesses narrate a movie about the stranger-than-fiction friendship between Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a nasty Texas dowager, and Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), the beloved small-town mortician who killed Marjorie in 1996 and hid her in a freezer for nine months? Here's why not: Because when director Richard Linklater does just that — bookending nearly every scene of his pitch-black comedy Bernie with commentary from the colorful pals and neighbors who knew the ill-fated couple in 1990s Carthage, Tex. — he guts his own movie. All those twangy, homespun observations interrupt and annotate the narrative until Black and MacLaine's scenes start to feel as trivial as reenactments on a true-crime TV show.

That's a shame, since both actors give fearless, all-in performances. Black turns his comic energy inward, playing Bernie as a cherubic oddball so endearing that the local DA (Matthew McConaughey) is scolded around town just for investigating him. MacLaine, in an underwritten battle-ax role, lets flickers of charm shoot out behind her scowl. They deserve a better movie, one that would trust them to tell their characters' story on their own — without footnotes. B-

Originally posted Apr 25, 2012 Published in issue #1205 May 04, 2012 Order article reprints
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Weekend of Dec 14 Box Office Source: Rentrak Corp.
Rank Title Weekend Gross* Weeks on Chart Cume. Gross* EW Grade
1. $24.5 1 $24.5 B
2. $13.2 4 $277.4 B-
3. $7.3 3 $58.8 C-
4.
Top Five
Paramount
$7.2 1 $7.2 A-
5.
Big Hero 6
Walt Disney Pictures
$6.1 6 $185.3 B+
6.
Interstellar
Paramount
$5.5 6 $166.8 B-
7.
Horrible Bosses 2
Warner Bros.
$4.6 3 $43.6 B-
8.
Dumb and Dumber To
Universal
$2.8 5 $82.1 C-
9. $2.5 6 $17.1 B+
10.
Wild
Fox
$1.5 2 $2.4 A-
* in millions

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