Two Comedies from Paramount
Alfie (July 3/06)
Based on the 1966 Michael Caine comedy of the same name, Alfie casts Jude Law as the title character - a limousine-driving lothario who has evidently perfected the one-night stand. But after years of conquests, Alfie is forced to finally come to terms with his thoroughly empty lifestyle. Directed by Charles Shyer, Alfie initially comes of as a breezy, distinctly sitcom-like piece of work - a vibe that's cemented by Law's easy-going performance and Shyer's light-hearted sense of style. But the complete and utter lack of a concrete storyline becomes painfully apparent as the movie progresses, to the extent that we can't help but wish that Alfie would hurry up and learn his lesson already (a problem that's exacerbated by the incongruously dramatic third act). And as charming as Law is here, Alfie - when you get right down to it - isn't a terribly likable character, something that certainly makes it difficult to actually care about his fate.
Meeting Daddy, starring Lloyd Bridges in his final cinematic appearance, is a low-key comedy revolving around the conflict that arises after a New Yorker named Peter (Josh Charles) travels to Georgia to meet girlfriend Melanie's (Alexandra Wentworth) eccentric family. There, he encounters Melanie's old-fashioned father (Bridges), quirky brothers (Beau Bridges and Olkewicz), and slutty friend Laurel Lee (Kristy Swanson). Though Peter and Melanie are only scheduled to stay a few days, Melanie's dad keeps manufacturing new reasons for the pair to stay (it becomes obvious fairly quickly that the man is just lonely and looking for any reason to keep his kids around). It's a familiar premise that's occasionally elevated by the performances and writer/director Peter Gould's off-kilter sense of humor, though the film's flat and awfully slight atmosphere prevents it from becoming much more than a sporadically engaging curiosity (the strangely unsatisfying conclusion doesn't help matters, either). Having said that, Gould does deserve kudos for peppering the movie with characters that generally feel authentic - a vibe that's cemented by the effective performances (Bridges, in particular, is quite good here).