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Bernie [2012] [PG-13] - 3.5.5



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Based on the true story of a beloved assistant funeral director (Jack Black) who began a relationship with a wealthy older woman (Shirley MacLaine), known for her bad attitude, only to end up shooting her and storing her body in the freezer and charitably spending her money until he was caught. Also with Matthew McConaughey. Directed by Richard Linklater. [1:44]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - We briefly see an older woman and a man holding hands; they are seen lying facedown on a massage table, presumably fully nude but covered by sheets.
 An older woman remarks that she had heard that another older woman bought "sexy underwear" at a store, including a nightgown that had a see-through bra. Multiple people remark that they believed a man was gay, including a man stating that he knows men who had been involved in a sexual relationship with the man. A man jokingly teases another man that he is going to "get lucky" with a woman if she drinks. An older woman jokingly remarks that a man liked to "kiss and hug on little old ladies." A man remarks that he had seen another man give an older woman a "sexual kiss" on the cheek. A man remarks to an older woman that he had been interested in being an evangelist because teenagers had "been having sex and drinking."
 A man wraps his arms around a young woman's waist as part of a play.

VIOLENCE/GORE 5 - A man shoots an older woman in the back four times and we see her hit the ground as the man imagines himself shooting the woman in the chest; we see her body lurch forward (no blood is visible), the man panics immediately and weeps and tries to hold her head.
 A policeman discovers a woman's body frozen, facedown, in a freezer and another man remarks that the older woman is "frozen like a popsicle." We briefly see a photograph of a dead woman's face; it appears freezer-burned and blackened, as a man explains to a group that the woman had been frozen. We see a man (a funeral director) preparing a cadaver in front of a group of students, including placing plastic in the cadaver's mouth and gluing it shut and gluing the cadaver's eyelids shut. We see a man loading a body bag on a gurney into a hearse.
 We see what looks like an incredibly gory car accident involving two cars and teenage drivers: one teen boy is on the ground, covered in blood and two other teens are seen in the two cars, slumped over and covered in fake blood; a man pulls the teen boy onto a gurney, the boy begins to laugh and we realize that it is a scene put on as a demonstration.
 We see a man try to run away when police officers surround a group of men; the man is grabbed by another man and they wrestle momentarily. A man makes a threatening phone call to another man, saying that he would be "found out." An older woman shrieks at a man and instructs him to shoot an armadillo; we see the man aim and miss the animal and the woman shouts at the man and hits him. An older woman hits a man on the behind with a broom; the man is unharmed.
 Throughout the movie an older woman shouts angrily at a man. An older woman shouts accusatory remarks at a man, in reference to an older man. During a police interrogation, a police officer asks a man if he had thought about killing an older woman previously; the man remarks that he had thought about an older woman dying from a car accident or being thrown down an escalator. A man jokingly tells another man that a woman is going to "tear him a new one." A man angrily poses a question to a woman, that if she had been shot in the back four times would she want him to investigate and criminally charge the gunman. A man weeps and tells a police officer that he had shot an older woman four times. On multiple occasions we hear the details of a crime where a man had shot an elderly woman in the back and then placed her in a freezer, including seeing an attorney present the empty freezer to a group of jury members and explain that it had taken two days for the woman's body to thaw. As a man tries to sell an older couple a casket, he half-jokingly remarks that the man would have to have his legs bent in order to fit into the casket; the older man jokes that he could be left in a sewage ditch and his wife acts horrified. An older woman makes a series of remarks about how a man would make dead bodies look "good" even if people had died in a car wreck, etc. An older woman remarks that a man touched "cold bloated bodies." People discuss how a man had been accused of killing an older woman: In reference to another older woman, an older woman remarks that people would have "killed her for $5," a woman remarks that it is not possible that a man shot an older woman, a man remarks that instead of shooting an older woman that she should have been suffocated with a pillow, and a woman says that a man should have disposed of another woman's body by dropping it in the ocean. An older woman dramatically warns a man that jail can be a "dangerous place." A man dramatically remarks that he thinks about "crime and mayhem." A man remarks that a man had "gone and gotten himself killed at the bar" after a man remarks that a man had died during a fight. An elderly woman tells a man that an older woman (her sister) would tear up her toys and harm her dolls when they were younger. Throughout the movie we hear a man explain to multiple people that an older woman had a stroke and was in hospice. An older man and a woman speculate that a man had his police confession "beaten" out of him.

PROFANITY 5 - At least 1 F-word, 1 sexual reference, 6 scatological terms, 4 anatomical terms (1 mild), 18 mild obscenities, 1 racial slur, 1 derogatory term for homosexuals, name-calling (Dallas snobs, hairy-legged women, dope pushers, liberal fruitloops, too tight, old heifer, mean old hateful [expletive deleted], wasn't friendly, born old, born with a prude face, silly, drunk, old blue hairs, lazy good for nothing, paranoid, hard-down mean, bona fide true blood killer, mad man, sissy, evil, mean and ornery, crazy as a coon, no brain in the whole dozen of them, cousins county rednecks, liar, coward, back-shooter, calculating evil actor, monster, high fluting), 1 religious profanity, 5 religious exclamations. [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A district attorney remarks that he is "busting up meth rings." A man and an older woman are seen drinking cocktails and wine throughout the movie, we see a man and an older woman have wine at dinner and we see glasses of wine on dining tables and a bottle of beer in front of a man, and a man explains that an older man was a "drunk" after another man explains in a flattering manner that the older man had been "social." Throughout the movie we see various older women and men smoking cigarettes.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Revenge, detachment, regret, embalming process, grief.

MESSAGE - Having a positive attitude is important.

Special Keywords: S3 - V5 - P5 - MPAAPG-13

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A CAVEAT: We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and some of our early standards were not as stringent as they are now. We therefore need to revisit many older reviews, especially those written prior to 1998 or so; please keep this in mind if you're consulting a review from that period. While we plan to revisit and correct older reviews our resources are limited and it is a slow, time-consuming process.

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