May 17, 2012
PG-13; 1:44 running time
At the opening of director and co-writer Richard Linklater's East Texas shuffle "Bernie," the small-town mortician played with unusual restraint by Jack Black conducts a master class in how to prepare a body for a first-class open-casket funeral, going into the niceties of proper position of the resting head, "neither star-gazing nor navel-gazing." The mouth, he adds, should be "relaxed, natural, with a little bit of a smile."
And that's the movie all over. It's an easygoing black comedy about an unlikely murderer and the woman he murdered, an oilman's widow played by Shirley MacLaine. The film may not be enough for some audiences accustomed to, or plowed under by, American comedies of a more bombastic approach. -- Michael Phillips
Read the full "Bernie" movie review