Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Monday, May 28, 2012


The Evil Within Us All

Rated: PG-13  Brief strong language and some violent images
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Runtime:  1 hr 44 mins

Director: Richard Linklater
Writers: Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth
Cast:  Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Brady Coleman, Richard Robichaux

SYNOPSIS: Based on a true story, an east texas small town mortician's assistant Bernie befriends a disliked wealthy local widow. Though a friendship ensues Bernie kills her but continues to spend her money and telling interested parties that she is still alive.

REVIEW: Self taught writer/director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) returns after a five year non-documentary hiatus since Robert Downey Jr's A Scanner Darkly to re-team with his School of Rock star Jack Black for his new film project. Co-writing with television movie writer Skip Hollandsworth (Suburban Madness), Linklater and Hollandsworth bring to the screen 
a movie based on the true story of a beloved local man who ends up killing a despised local woman.
Bernie Tiede (Jack Black, Gulliver's Travels) travels to the small East Texas town of Carthage to take the position of assistant mortician (although he prefers assistant funeral director). A wonderful singer, excellent worker, and a friend to all the people of the town, Bernie is beloved. Before every funeral service, Bernie takes the utmost care in presenting the deceased with the utmost tender care. After each burial service, Bernie does his most to make sure that each widow is visited and comforted. When  a local oil tycoon passes away, Bernie makes a point to visit the new widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine, Downton Abbey). Disliked by most, if not all, of the town, Marjorie uncharacteristically takes a shine to Bernie. They start to travel as companions, Bernie starts to take care of her vast finances, and Marjorie starts relying on Bernie for almost every whim. When Marjorie pushes Bernie to the breaking point, demanding more and more of Bernie's time that, in turn, lessens the time Bernie has for his friends, Bernie shoots Marjorie in the back with a gun meant for armadillos. Immediately horrified for what he had done, Bernie hides the body and tells interested family, council, and townsfolk that she is sickly. When the truth finally comes to light, spotlight hungry assistant district attorney Danny Buck (Matthew McConaughey, The Lincoln Lawyer) presses for a trial with a change of venue since Bernie is so well loved in Carthage.

Linklater shoots the film in half documentary style and half scripted style. Since the story is based on fact, he starts the film with several interviews of local townsfolk about their thoughts on their fellow Carthage resident. From his boss to diner patrons to random folks on their front porch or in the park, everyone had only kind words for the assistant funeral director. On the other hand, nary a resident or local business owner could find a kind word about Marjorie Nugent, either in life or in death. Most people stated that Bernie must have been driven to murder by Marjorie herself after his patience and goodwill finally ran out. Linklater does a great job of editing the 'testimonials' and Black. MacLaine, and McConaughey's scripted performances.

Jack Black returns to a performance type that he excels in. Mixing School of Rock vocals with The Holiday sensibility, Black belts out wonderful hymns and gospel favorites while diving seriously into a quirky role that is effeminate and all too kind. Shirley MacLaine's Nugent is both mean to the world at large and fiercely co-dependent and reliant on Bernie. Matthew McConaughey channels his A Time to Kill and A Lincoln Lawyer lawyering with a layer of his Tropic Thunder marketing experience to bring Danny Buck to full life. Linklater casts dozens of Carthage extras for the interviews, all with their own mid-west, east-Texas charm.

Can a man get a fair trial in a small town with people who claim to know him best? Since all of the other residents knew how Marjorie was in life, could she possibly be cast in a better light during trial in death? Was ADA Danny Buck looking for justice or headlines, or both? These are the questions that eventually need to be answered. Although the story runs a little slow at times, in total the film is a treat to watch and listen to.

Based on a true story of intrigue and murder, Bernie could have ended up as another 48 Hours episode. But Linklater and the primary cast of Black, McConaughey, and MacLaine create an almost surreal and unbelievable story based on those facts. A quaint slice of Americana drama, Black, MacLaine and McConaughey bring their brand of southern hospitality to life, even with a story surrounding a death.

WORTH: DVD or Rental

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