Starring: Jude Law, Omar Epps, Marisa Tomei, Nia Long, Susan Sarandon
Director: Charles Shyer
Whenever moviegoers hear the dreaded “remake” label attached to a film nowadays, they run out to their nearest video store and rent the original. How else could you compare the two after the latest version is released in theaters? But in planning to see director Charles Shyer’s new film, “Alfie,” an update of the 1966 version starring Michael Caine, take my advice and skip the trip to Blockbuster. Similar in many respects to the original, the newest “Alfie” is still a completely different film, thanks mostly to a witty script full of smooth one-liners and a brilliant performance by Jude Law as the title character.
Law is picture perfect as Alfie, a British limousine driver living a vigorous lifestyle in Manhattan with plans for a bigger and better future. On his off time, Alfie is a lavish playboy with a closet full of designer threads and the ability to shag any woman he desires, but after losing his longtime on-again-off-again girlfriend (Marisa Tomei), cheating with his best friend’s girl (Nia Long) and coming face to face with possible penile cancer, he vies to change his life for the better. Refreshing his slate with a brand new palette of woman and placing things like health and business on the fast track for success, Alfie rebounds from his emotional low and sets out to regain his status as one of New York’s most eligible bachelors, only to discover what he’s really been missing all along in a life of fun and games.
The visual storytelling is never dull and the script stays incredibly fresh for a film about nothing, but it is Jude Law’s performance that makes this version a real winner. Law’s Alfie is a refreshing reminder that not every great performance has to include some incredible historic importance or life-changing event to be nominated for an Oscar, and audiences will quickly fall in love with the self-confident swagger that protrudes while he delivers sharp narration with a wink and smile to the camera. The eventual character development of Alfie is much needed although - if not only for the thin story that results – but by the end of the film, the audience is left wanting more of Law’s boyish charm and carefree approach to life in place of the somber philosopher he becomes. His supporting cast of women is equally entertaining, but Susan Sarandon wins the prize for her sexy performance as the matured female version of Alfie. Always smart and never afraid to do the unimaginable, Charles Shyer’s “Alfie” is the perfect film for the woman withdrawing from the cancellation of “Sex and the City” and the man who can now finally understand what the buzz was all about.
Despite a short run in the theaters and a huge box-office loss, Paramount has decided to release their update of the classic film "Alfie" on a Special Collector's Edition DVD packed with bonus material. Presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the "Alfie" DVD is mostly made up of technical featurettes with cast and crew that can easily be dismissed, among the best being "Deconstruction of a Scene" with the movie's film editor. Also featured on the single-disc release are two audio commentaries: the first with director Charles Shyer and Patrick McKinley, and the second with Shyer and producer/co-writer Elaine Pope. Also included is a still gallery, storyboards, theatrical trailer and eight deleted scenes with optional commentary.