As you might hope for a film with a script from the great Jules Feiffer, Dan Mirvish's Bernard and Huey bristles with anxious, circuitous, hilarious talk. Based on characters the longtime Village Voice cartoonist invented a half-century ago, Mirvish's roundelay sex comedy offers spiraling spiels and bald, bold declarations of self right out of his epochal comics. Jim Rash delivers a bristling monologue about how his character's ex pretended her tactic of compassion was actually an ethic; later, an on-again/off-again couple will argue over which of them is the key transitional figure in the other's life.
That elfin wit Rash plays Bernard, the schlemiel-ish old college pal/rival of David Koechner's carousing Huey. Rash finds the music in Feiffer's flights of chatter, dashing nimbly through Bernard's speeches and arguments, sourcing each word in character. Koechner's Huey is more of a boor playing the part of the sophisticate to keep the bedroom he's borrowed at Bernard's West Village apartment hopping. Koechner shows us the strain of generating all that talk. The two are conceived in counterpoint, of course, each reflecting and defining the other in ways that, often, are too obvious to be illuminating. Still, Feiffer and Mirvish never inflate the significance of these dudes' sexual misadventures -- the tone, as in a Feiffer cartoon, is detached, even taxonomical.
The story isn't as inspired as the best speeches. Bernard's age-appropriate longtime lover (Sasha Alexander) has to exclaim, "You come here to tell me you're in love with a 25-year-old undergrad?" There's a variation on that line in most bookish Manhattan sex comedies. Feiffer, at least, isn't romantic about cross-generational horndogging and works amusing variations on the musty setup.