Jack Black stars in this comedy about Bernie who is the town's most likable mortician. Even thought he works with the dead and funeral preparations, he does so in such a life-affirming way that everyone in the small Texan town adores him. He is an excellent salesman, but underneath he is really seriously lonely. He does not have a girlfriend which cause to town gossips to speculate that he might be gay.
At the funeral of a rich banker which he prepares, he befriends the widow Marjorie Nugent (played by Shirley MacLaine). Mrs. Nugent is a horrible person. Nobody likes her. Even she is very rich, the townspeople ignore her. She lives like a hermit in a big house, shunning all that try to see her, including her family because in her mind all they want is her money. Bernie seems to be the only one that can get through to her and understands her. They pair up even though they are very different in age. She tests his loyalty and devotion constantly by treating him as the equivalent of a servant, but he handles all of the abuse well and only responds with kindness to her, which makes her fall for him. They go on a world tour like a couple of newlyweds. Bernie completely gains her trust but the constant abuse and nagging finally gets to him and in a moment of rage he "accidently" kills her.
He puts her body in the freezer and pretends to all the townspeople that everything is still just fine. In fact, he goes around town using the woman's money to help those in need and even donates money to the church in her name. After many months, the woman's attorney gets suspicious and he gets the town's sheriff Danny Buck (played by Matthew McConaughey) to go to the house and search it. They find the dead woman's body in the garage in the big freezer. Bernie is charged with murder.
The entire town comes out to support Bernie who tells the truth that the woman's psychological abuse drove him to kill her. Just about everyone agrees she deserved to die. Nevertheless, Bernie goes to jail and still maintains his charming demeanor throughout the whole ordeal.
Best part of story, including ending:
Shirley MacLaine is outstanding as the mean old rich woman. While Bernie is obviously taking advantage of the situation, it is also amazing how much he puts up with, before he finally snaps.
Best scene in story:
It's a great scene when all the townsfolk come out to support the murderer Bernie, while he is at court, by driving around the courthouse blowing their car horns. It is very amusing because many are very happy that Bernie killed the mean old woman.
Opinion about the main character:
What I like about Bernie is that he seems to be manipulative and fake while at the same time so sincere. We never quite know what is really going on inside his head but we empathize with him nonetheless.