Very rarely is Texas depicted correctly by Hollywood. Of course, as this film points out, Texas is many different places. Some films have got West Texas, the land of cattle drives and desolate mountains and hard-bitten cowboys, right. A few films get urban Texas at least somewhat right. Then there is East Texas . . . or, as we say here in the NE areay of the state, DEEP East Texas. The Piny Woods. That is my ancestral home - 5 generations of Smiths lived and died in Sabine County before my Dad went off to war, came back to the states, and went to college.
Carthage, TX, is a little town of 7,000 about three hours away from me. I have driven though it and met a good many folks from that area. And Carthage was the scene of a murder several years back that shocked, then united the locals. But they were not united in a common outrage against the killer. Oh no. Even though he shot an 80 year old lady in the back 4 times, the town was united in anger against the DA that prosecuted him!
Jack Black gives the performance of his career as Bernie Tiede, an assistant funeral director and song leader at the local Methodist Church, who is beloved by every little old widow lady in a tri-county area, who regards the preparation of the dead for burial as an art and a service to mankind and the Lord. Shirley MacLain is dead-on perfect as Mrs. Marjorie Nugent, the meanest lady in town, who falls for Bernie's self effacing charm. And Matthew McConaughey rounds out the cast as the crusading DA determined to see Bernie do life in prison for his crime. The icing on the cake is that, scattered throughout the film, we see numerous interviews with the real townspeople of Carthage, TX, who still stand by their man Bernie!
This is an amazing film; be sure to watch the credits for the musical tribute to Bernie at the end. Jack Black really deserved an Oscar for this one, it is far and away the finest role he has ever done. Watch BERNIE for a slice of East Texas life that is just as real and tasty as a fresh pecan pie!!!!