Alfie Charles Shyer

This piece of undemanding fluff got the bum's rush from critics, but it's really not as bad as we've heard. Lord knows it's no masterpiece but its tale of the titular womaniser (Jude Law) is amusing enough to get by. Alfie (Jude Law) is a chauffeur who's mastered the art of seduction and failed at the art of emotional commitment; his fourth-wall breaking monologues inform us of both his modus operandi and the fact that he's reaching the end of the line. He's toyed too much with a loving single mother (Marisa Tomei), possibly impregnated his best friend's girl (Nia Long) and misunderstood the advances of a sexy older woman (Susan Sarandon), never asking the musical question: what's it all about? Maybe this looks bad next to the 1966 original (though as the director went on to James Bond epics, I tend to doubt it), and to be fair there's a certain sweater-daddy conservatism to matters sexual; I could have also lived without Gedde Watanabe's humiliation (again) as a heavily-accented Asian stereotype. But it's got colour and light enough to be decent eyewash, though a blind purchase is probably pushing it. For no apparent reason, Paramount has stacked the DVD with more extras than some Criterion releases, including two commentaries with director Charles Shyer, writer/producer Elaine Pope and editor Padraic McKinley; a round table with the principal participants; featurettes on "The World of Alfie," "The Women of Alfie" and the music by Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart; a "scene deconstruction" with the editor; eight deleted scenes with optional commentary by Shyer and McKinley; "Gedde Watanabe Dance Footage" with optional commentary by Shyer and Pope; photo, storyboard and script galleries; and the trailer. (Paramount)