Everyone in Carthage, Texas, loved assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede: church-choir soloist, junior college musical director, and generous to a fault. So beloved was Bernie that when he shot his elderly companion Marjorie Nugent, the meanest — and richest — woman in town, district attorney Danny Buck Davidson had to move the trial nearly 50 miles away. Richard Linklater (writing with Skip Hollandsworth, author of a Texas Monthly article on the case) has called Bernie his Fargo, but his eye is less jaundiced than the Coens', his ear more sweetly bemused. Jack Black's Bernie is all surface and Shirley MacLaine, as his prune-faced meal ticket, is barely there; they're easily bested by Matthew McConaughey's press-courtin,' baseball bat-wielding DA. But the film belongs to the actual citizens of Carthage, talking trash about Mrs. Nugent, debating Bernie's sexual orientation, and recreating incidents along with the pros, like a more lighthearted version of Werner Herzog's Little Dieter Wants To Fly.