This just a great film. I feel all gushy about it. I even showed it to my mom (a rare event our tastes are light years apart), and was amazed how much she liked Jack Black. So if a film can bring us together on anything it has to be a pretty special little film.
It's based on a tale of true crime. See Bernie, here played by Jack Black, is an assistant funeral director in a small Texan town. He's oddly enough the life of the party, the spring in the step and just about the nicest guy you'd ever meet. Oh, he wasn't perfect he had a problem with shopping too much and folks would gossip on whether or not he was gay or not; but over all life was good for Bernie and everyone liked him.
Things change for Bernie when he sets sights on the meanest old woman in town. Who knows why, maybe it was a challenge to him. Maybe he really did believe that everyone had some good in them. Wrong. It quickly becomes a toxic relationship where Bernie is trapped because he's simply too nice to tell her to take a long walk off a short pier.
Well, suddenly the meanest woman in town is no longer in sight. Bernie makes excuses and proceeds to spend her money (on her behalf, of course) to help the town. Eventually this will not stand and soon the town is filled with the gossip that Bernie has killed the old hag. The rest of the film follows the town's reaction and the trial.
This is a great little low key film. What really brings it to life is the acting of Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. I've always liked Jack but sometimes he doesn't choose good vehicles and he can go over the top in his acting at the drop of a check. Here, he's restrained and just perfect in the role of the soft hearted Bernie. We also get to hear him sing something different than rock and roll. His gospel renditions are just beautiful. Shirley MacLaine doesn't have a lot of lines in the film but she really sells her wicked witch character just by body language and a lemony face. She's more prickly than a porcupine with a bad case of static shock. Together they are truly an odd couple, but they sell it so well!