This droll and enjoyably morbid Texas folk tale (apparently based on a true story) is undermined by its faux-documentary structure.
Director Richard Linklater tells the bizarre story of assistant funeral director Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) and his part in the death of rich, nasty widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) in flashback.
He has frequent scenes of the inhabitants of Carthage ostensibly talking to camera, as if they are being interviewed for a piece of TV reportage.
It is a cumbersome conceit that distracts from Black's delightful turn as the camp, sweet Bernie and from MacLaine's Cruella de Vil-like performance.
Look out, too, for Matthew McConaughey's scene-stealing schtick as a dogged detective.