After his movies Year One and Gulliver’s Travels, I went to see this Jack Black (Be Kind Rewind, Tropic Thunder) comedy with some trepidation. I cannot tell you how shocked I was at his performance in this movie; it was one of his best. Portraying Bermie Tiede, a mortician; Jack had the perfect blend of comedic timing and fastidious attitude in this mockumentary based on a true story. Living in a small Texas town Bernie stood out from the other residents. It did not matter since he was loved for all the good work he did around the community. Even when he struck up a relationship with the town’s bitterest, wealthiest, elderly Marjorie Nugent played by Shirley MacLaine (Valentine’s Day, In Her Shoes); the town folk thought Bernie was a saint. It was a real stitch watching this humorous film. I especially enjoyed how scenes were spaced apart by various resident interviews, commenting on their thoughts about Bernie and Marjorie. The acting was excellent from everyone, including Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Two For the Money) in his role as Danny Buck. Since I did not know anything about the story, I was completely surprised to discover this wild story was really true. As the credits began, we saw pictures of the real characters. Jack Black certainly redeemed himself in this funny film.
If there was a crack in a building’s foundation, the more weight added would only widen the crack, I would think. In regards to human character, if there was a fracture in one’s moral character; what would happen to them if they were put under extra pressure? This was a question I pondered as I watched this action film about three New York policemen. Each one was broken in some way; I just did not know if they were already broken by the time they joined the police force or if the force pushed them into their current state of mind. The grittiness and rawness of these officers was perfectly played by Richard Gere (Nights in Rodanthe, Pretty Woman), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 2) and Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Gattaca). In fact, the acting was what made this movie worth watching. The story followed each officer as they did whatever they could to get out from under their personal demons. Richard as Eddie had to get through one final week before retirement; Don as Tango was being consumed by his undercover job and Ethan as Sal was frantic to get his hands on any cash, by any means. Each one’s struggle was leading them to a deeper desperateness. I had a hard time believing some of the scenarios in this crime film. I mean, not all police officers wind up disillusioned, do they? Without a strong script, I also found this film choppy in places and sadly, the excellent acting got wasted in this movie.
2 1/2 stars — DVD