SLIFF 2017 Review- BERNARD AND HUEY
BERNARD AND HUEY screens as part of the 26th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival on Sunday, November 5 at 6 PM at landmark’s Tivoli Theatre. For ticket information click HERE
Here’s a rarity. It’s a live-action feature film based on a comic that doesn’t involve brawny men in armored tights wailing on each other (and taking out entire city blocks). That’s because it’s based on a newspaper/magazine comic panel (like “The Far Side”) rather than those brightly colored page-turners from Marvel and DC. This is the brainchild of celebrated cartoonist Jules Feiffer, and uses recurring characters from the pages of the Village Voice and Playboy, spanning thirty years. When we first meet BERNARD AND HUEY, they’re in their early twenties, always on the make (or in their language “looking to make out”). Bespectacled, nebbishy Bernard is bemoaning his last lady, while brunt, surly Huey offers his “lil’ black book” while commenting on any female prospect within his scope of vision. From those first moments we know we’re in Feiffer territory with dialogue so similar to the exchanges between Jonathan and Sandy in the iconic 1971 classic CARNAL KNOWLEDGE. Jump to the present day and nearly 50 year-old Bernie (Jim Rash) has amassed much of said knowledge as a single book editor whose spartan apartment practically has a revolving bedroom door. Then we catch up with Huey (David Koechner), drunk, overweight, slovenly, as he’s being hauled back to his wife by his graphic novelist daughter Zelda (Mae Whitman). He escapes her clutches and heads right to a very stunned old bud Bernie. As the two re-connect, Huey sets up “shop” in Bernie’s pad, and while Bernie begins an ill-advised affair with Zelda, Huey gets his “mojo” back with several ladies including Bernie’s co-worker Mona (Nancy Travis) and his recent ex Roz (Sasha Alexander), an “age appropriate” therapist. When Zelda proves to be her father’s daughter,it’s Bernard that flounders in the “make out” scene.
Director Dan Mirvish expertly capture the Big Apple vibe as the two main characters wander endless streets and debate at countless dives and diners. Rash and Koechner are an engaging unlikely pair who know just the right “buttons” to push with each other (at times there’s a palpable air of potential violence in these encounters). The women here are more than just mere conquests or obstacles, really delivering a sharp verbal “smack-down” to their crude “come-ons (especially Huey). Whitman, in particular. is quite convincing as an artist that believes she just needs the right break, while not accepting any form of criticism about her gruesome imagery (all concern distorting of a certain organ). For fans of the formidable Feiffer, BERNARD AND HUEY is a must movie date.