I’m not exactly sure how to describe this film. Is there such a thing as a murder/comedy? If there is, this is it. It’s sort of In Cold Blood meets Waiting for Guffman. It’s the true story of a likeable funeral director and his bizarre May- December relationship—not romance—with the town’s very own Miss Gulch. The other strange thing about this movie is that even though the hilarious Jack Black is in the title role, he almost is never the source of the comedy.
Bernie (Black) is a funeral director in a tiny town in East Texas. He loves his job and he is good at it. From helping people plan ahead to comforting grieving widows, he is there for his friends and neighbors every step of the way. So when the town’s most hated matriarch, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), loses her husband, no one is surprised that Bernie is by her side with his affection and support. Soon, attentiveness turns to friendship and then dysfunction. Bernie wants to love and attend to Marjorie, but her controlling, nasty nature soon becomes too much.
Comedy, you ask? Yes, it’s a comedy. The local townspeople offer up colorful, hilarious commentary throughout the film, even going so far as to pressure the local D.A. Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) into not prosecuting the ensuing case. Jack Black is priceless as the loveable, sexually ambiguous Bernie and more than holds his own sharing the screen with the powerhouse MacLaine. This film certainly has something that most movies coming out of Hollywood lack: originality. Apparently, truth is stranger than fiction.
It's a 7.