Jack Black has spent his career playing amusing (some think irritating) maniacs. His role in Richard Linklater's "Bernie" is a complete departure from that and he is excellent. This movie is based on a real person and a real case. Black has the title role, playing Bernie Tiede, a closeted gay mortician in the small East Texas town of Carthage. Bernie is the best liked guy in town because he really is the nicest person in town. He sings hymns in church and at the funeral home and sings Broadway tunes in his capacity as the director of the local amateur theater group, which seems to be perpetually putting on "The Music Man". Bernie's the lead, of course. Black, who is a talented musician (Tenacious D), sings beautifully and without a tinge of irony.
Bernie is nice to every one including the richest and meanest woman in town, Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). Bernie eventually becomes her companion and majordomo and that is when complications arise. Matthew McConaughey is great as the ridiculously self-satisfied Carthage District Attorney, Danny Buck.
Also great are the actual citizens of Carthage, whose interviews are scattered throughout the film like a Greek chorus. It has been noted that giving an interview is functionally a performance and some of the townsfolk are wonderful performers. One Carthaginian talks about the citizens of a town about 50 miles away with a distain worthy of a Cro-Magnon talking about a Neanderthal. This is very funny stuff and I highly recommend this film