Using some DNA dug up from an old British movie studio vault, Americans try to re-create the old sexist, misogynist dinosaur Alfie, played so memorably back in 1966 by Michael Caine in Alfie.
They haven’t made a very accurate job of it. Alfie is now a cute, sexy, appealing neat little bloke, played by Jude Law at his most alluring in sharp suits and sharper haircut. As well as being a Sixties-style babe magnet and sex machine, the new Alfie is a millennium-type new man, whose only fault is that he adores all women, and, though he has still got a girl in every apartment, he truly loves them all, and THEY leave HIM. He’s just so adorable and deeply misunderstood!
The Yanks, naturally, have re-created Alfie in New York, though he still talks in Sixties London slang (‘smashing’, ‘birds’ etc) and has a cockney twang with just a hint of having attended a posh drama school. He’s a limo driver for the rich and beautiful people, has an African-American best buddy called Marlon (Omar Epps), they share a girlfriend, Lonette (Nia Long), whom he gets pregnant, and he has an Oriental boss, Mr Wing (Gedde Watanabe).
Gone are the bad old days of Sixties social realism when Alfie makes a girl have an abortion or treats an older woman cruelly. Now, ’50 if she’s a day’ but gorgeous Liz (Susan Sarandon) dumps him for a younger model and Alfie ends up older but wiser, finally fully in touch with his inner heart of gold.
Under the circumstances, it is a shock how richly enjoyable and amusing this new Alfie is. That is due, almost entirely, to Law, showing he knows exactly what it’s all about and giving perhaps the best performance of his career so far, so cute that he really is irresistible, warts and all.
In what is clearly a labour of love for him, co-writer/ co-producer/ director Charles Shyer has made a swinging job of the Alfie cloning. But with the moral values campaign high in the election at the time of its US release, Alfie flopped with a terrible $13 million take. Its £4.6 million take in the UK though was respectable, though.
Also in the cast are Marisa Tomei, Renée Taylor, Jane Krakowski, Jeff Harding, Kevin Rahm, Max Morris, Jo Yang, Tara Summers, Sam Vicenti and Sienna Miller.
The score is by John Powell and music by Mick Jagger and David A Stewart. Their song ‘Old Habits Die Hard’ won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
Elaine Pope co-writes the screenplay, based on Bill Naughton’s play and novel Alfie, and co-produces.
Law went on to remake another Michael Caine classic in 2007 – Sleuth.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4338
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