Reunited with his School of Rock director Richard Linklater, Jack Black has his best-ever role and meets it with inspriation and amazing restraint.
Playing a real-life, world-famous-in-Texas character (you can see Black meets him if you stay for the credits) he provides a wonderfully full portrait of a closeted small-town guy who has sunk his enormous personality into round-the-clock, upbeat, apple-pie niceness.
Blessed wiht a golden singing voice, attentive to anniversaries, generous with gifts, Bernie Tiede was an assistant undertaker so popular wiht the old ladies of Carthage, Texas, that when he confessed to murdering one of their number, nobody in town was prepared to listen. And if he did it, they say, victim Marjorie Nugent (a sour, purse-clutching Shirley MacLaine) had it coming.
The fun is in the details and the way Linklater kids the notion that Bernie = community spirit.
An East Texas native himself, Linlater has enlisted actual townspeople to provide pungent opinion and unreliable commentary in a mock-doc fashion no sane outsider would contemplate.
Matthew McConaughey as the county prosecutor looks great in a Stetson and cuts a scathing dash through the protestations of Marjorie's defamers and Bernie's fans.
"Black sings, dances and charms his way around a character whose larger-than-life personality almost demands parody. Yet the wonder of Black's performance here is its empathy and balance: inasmuch as he candisappear into any role, he dissolves into this one wiht no hint of mocking remove. It's a beautiful thing to see." - Jeannette Catsoulis, NPR