Movie and DVD Guide

Find Movies and Tickets

Choose Your Movie

All movies
or
Bernie (2012) 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

Find theaters showing Bernie in your area

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
Advertisement
Weekend of Apr 13 Box Office Source: Rentrak Corp.
Rank Title Weekend Gross* Weeks on Chart Cume. Gross* EW Grade
1. $41.4 2 $159.0 B+
2.
Rio 2
Fox
$39.0 1 $39.0 NA
3.
Oculus
Relativity
$12.0 1 $12.0 NA
4.
Draft Day
Lionsgate/Summit
$9.7 1 $9.7 B
5.
Divergent
Lionsgate/Summit
$7.5 4 $124.9 B+
6.
Noah
Paramount
$7.4 3 $84.9 C+
7.
God's Not Dead
Freestyle
$5.5 4 $40.7 NA
8.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Fox Searchlight
$4.0 6 $39.5 A-
9.
Muppets Most Wanted
Walt Disney Pictures
$2.2 4 $45.7 B
10. $1.8 6 $105.2 B
* in millions