OK for kids 14+
Jack Black stars in dark fact-based murder comedy.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bernie is an eccentric, entertaining, and sometimes disturbing dark comedy based on the real-life murder of wealthy Texas widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). Jack Black stars, but this isn't one of his mainstream comedies; Bernie's story is told with a mix of seriousness and levity, a tone that may be hard for tweens and under to process, given that it all actually happened. There's a bit of swearing (including very infrequent uses of words like "s--t" and "f--k") and scenes of cruelty (emotional, with one character needling and bullying another).
- Families can talk about the movie's message. What's the takeaway? Is there meant to be one?
- Can you believe that this story is actually based on real-life events? How accurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers stretch or change the facts?
- What makes Bernie a sympathetic character -- both to the people in his town and to audiences?
The good stuff
Messages: Bernie is about a man who kills an elderly woman and stuffs her in a freezer and yet is still beloved by many in his hometown -- an iffy message at best. It's possible to draw the conclusion that it pays to be kind and neighborly so that you'll have others' support when you make mistakes. But Bernie still has to take responsibility for his crime.
Role models: Bernie is helpful and supportive of many people in his town ... until he's not. And when he does lose patience, he does so in a catastrophically shocking way.
What to watch for
Violence: The movie revolves around a murder. Guns are fired, and a woman is shot from behind with a rifle (it's shocking rather than grisly). Earlier, she's shown berating, insulting, and generally emotionally abusing those around her. Since Bernie is a funeral director, there are some scenes where he's shown working on a corpse.
Sex: Innuendoes abound, but no there's no action.
Language: Language includes infrequent uses of everying from "f--k" and "s--t" (used about once each) to "ass," "hell" and "goddamn."
Consumerism: One character has lots of money, and she uses it to buy cars and clothes and go on vacations. There's some talk of how she may have felt entitled to be nasty because of the distance money afforded her.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some social drinking.
Fan Reviews provided by
Bernie by fostersplace
LOVED THIS MOVIE!!!! Local and famous actors were all excellent and true to East Texas ways. Writing, directing, cinematography -- all wonderful and hope it gets some awards.
Only wished I'd gotten there for the movie only. Was deeply disturbed at the level of TV/loud commercials played 10 minutes or more before the movie started! Yuck!!
Jack Black at His Best! by gothame
Brilliant and fast paced, this film is witty, at turns dark, at others uproariously funny and deeply poignant. The cast delivers performances that are uniformly outstanding. Based on a true story, the film subversively questions right and wrong in a way that will linger with the viewer.
The New Jack Black by BonVie
I almost passed on this movie because typically Jack Black movies are not even in my 'to rent' category (Nacho Libre, anyone?). Who knew Jack Black could actually act AND sing? His acting was spot-on - not one goofy or absurd acting moment. He sang in a pure and sweet tenor that was totally appropriate for the material. The movie is about the murder of a wealthy and controlling woman (Shirley MacLaine) by her companion (Black) who is also the local assistant funeral director. While the subject is grim, the story is told with a sense of humor and features local residents so the accents are REAL (as opposed to New Yorker/Hollywood sub-par approximations) which adds the perfect level of authentication. Matthew McConaughey and his mother, Kay, are also in the movie; she should have a career in acting! Bernie was the first movie I'd seen in a long time that prompted spontaneous audience applause at the end, and the theater remained full until the last credit rolled. Very, very good!
Bernie - a different kind of true story by clive65
We went as a family. I talked them into it, the cast and the plot was the hook for me, but I really had no idea how cleverly the story would unfold and be told. The side interviews from "good Texan folk" were hilarious and so realistic, it really was hard to be disconnected from the story at any time.
Beautiful filming, rich colors with very accurate styling of clothes and property made for a great tale. Great one liners and some most interesting people roped together as extras to make up the numbers. Go see it, Bernie has optimism unlimited despite the terrible things he has done!
Bernie Rocks! by llbnyny
Jack Black's performance is the best of his career. The supporting cast, especially the townspeople, are played to east Texas perfection. Richard Linklater has created a dark, comic "dramedy" that is an entertaining ride from the first frame. Don't miss it!
So Clever! by janisutx
Bernie was so refreshing and original. Please don't miss it. The cast, writers and director should be so proud of their work. It was so funny in spite of the subject matter. I loved the real people of Carthage, Texas. They made Bernie a real winner!
Based on a true story!! by Angie914
I saw Bernie at the Angelika theater in NYC. The movie is based on an actual Bernie. The movie was funny. But don't expect it to be your typical Jack Black silly funny movie.
Bernie, stupid and inane. by Gypsyjon
This is one of the silliest, dumb movies I have seen in years. A total waste of time and money. Filled with stupid, supposed to be funny rural sayings. Way off the mark, do not waste you time on this one.
Bernie by roseombre
Well, this is a very different kind of movie; the way it was filmed. Lots of narrative. I found myself laughing out loud many many times throughout the movie. Little kids? No, leave them at home. This is going to be a cult movie with people quoting lines. Both the leads were excellent choices. But the odd people stole the show! Go see it!
A subtle, off-kilter masterpiece by wonko_the_sane
This film contains the best acting I've ever seen from Jack Black, and one of the most subtle, realistic and sympathetic portrayals of small town Southern life I've ever ever seen on film.