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Bernie Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Y'all go see this. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

More memorable than the Alamo. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Adam Markovitz

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    More than the film that surrounds him, Jack Black is worth the price of admission in Bernie, an oddball May-December true life crime story that would have profited from being a whole lot darker and full-bodied than it is.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Where the movie is at its best is in the comically laconic, straight-to-the-camera remarks offered by Carthage's residents. (They're played by a mix of local actors and real townspeople doing partially scripted versions of themselves.)

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

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
  • message true0

    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.

  • rolemodels true0

    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 false3

    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 false1

    Sex: Innuendoes abound, but no there's no action.

  • language false3

    Language: Language includes infrequent uses of everying from "f--k" and "s--t" (used about once each) to "ass," "hell" and "goddamn."

  • consumerism false1

    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.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some social drinking.