I love my unique first name. Even with its immediate connection to the presidential race dropout, Senator Bernie Sanders, I find my Bernie identity special. Heck, I’m the second youngest Bernie I know!
Before Sanders, people used to associate my name to the comedy, Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), in which the titular character’s murdered body is moved around the household to appear alive. I’d rather not be connected to a corpse!
I’m not sure the 2011 movie aptly named Bernie will make life any easier for me…
Based on a true story in Carthage, Texas, church-going bachelor Bernie Tiede (played by the infamous Jack Black) takes a mortician job at the local funeral home and befriends the entire community, including its most detested member, Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine), a much older millionaire widow. The neighbors are baffled by this developing odd couple. Is he attracted to her money? It certainly isn’t her Grinch-like personality. As months go by, Bernie’s impeccable patience starts to wear thin. He finally implodes and puts four bullets in her back.
It’s a dark comedy.
Why would anyone – including people named Bernie – want to see this movie? I would have to start with the impressive, calculated performance by Jack Black. I realize many find his wild antics on and off the screen deplorable (my wife on the top of the list), but this is a Jack Black who disappears into a sincerely polite Texas citizen who cantors at church, gives to charities, and directs school musicals. His joy for life is so beaming, it’s nearly impossible to proclaim “murderer” to that innocent cherub smile.
Everybody loves Bernie. Prosecutor Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey) has to move the trial to a different town because there aren’t enough jurors in Carthage who would be willing to convict him!
Then there’s versatile director, Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, School of Rock), who has a field day with this oddball tale, employing a pseudo-documentary feel as he interviews the Bernie-loving town folk (some are actors, while some actually knew and adored the real Bernie). The interviews bring on the most chuckles, and it’s astonishing to see how much these people maintain their love for Bernie even after he is convicted of murder and put behind bars.
For some reason, murder and the name Bernie equal hearty laughs in this country. Thankfully, Senator Sanders helped taper that down a bit. And, take it from me, a Bernie who isn’t a corpse, a lovable Texas murderer, or a Vermont Senator, this movie is worth a watch.
Celebrating a year of hobby blogging movies, I, Reely Bernie, present Bernie (2011).
***1/2 out of *****
Thank you to all of my supportive readers. It’s been a joy having conversations with other movie fanatics around the world and knowing there’s a shared passion for the pastime of film and its necessity, especially during these unprecedented times.
Be safe and well and keep watching,