Around The World In 80 Days

on June 16, 2004 by Christine James
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If director Frank Coraci wanted to rehash "Rush Hour 2" and "Shanghai Knights," was there any need to drag Jules Verne into it? This adaptation of "Around the World in 80 Days" takes the premise of the 19th-century author's classic novel about the globetrotting adventures of the eccentrically precise British gentleman Phileas Fogg and his game valet Passepartout and crams it into the Hollywood Machine to crank out yet another genial but simple-minded Jackie Chan action-comedy. Judging from the broad-stroke lessons imparted--"legends can be real" and "friends are important"--this one's strictly for the kiddies.

Fogg, here portrayed by "24 Hour Party People's" Steve Coogan, has been transmogrified from a methodical, passionless aristocrat in 1800s London to a more whimsical though still uptight inventor, which is all well and good, except he bears little of his literary predecessor's confidence and dignity and immediately takes a backseat to the antics of Chan. Chan plays Lau Xing, a kung fu hero posing as a French (yep!) butler to evade the police, who are after him for having stolen a jade Buddha figure--but only so he can return it to his village, from where it was originally purloined. Fate teams him up with Fogg, who is pressured by the scientific community into making a bet that he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. As such a journey would serve the purposes of Lau Xing, aka Passepartout, he eggs his new employer on and the two set off on their continent-hopping trek.

Infinite entertainment and educational opportunities are squandered as little of the world's wondrous sights and cultures are seen in this burlesque that's more concerned with rote ninja fights and dragon-lady warlord posturings, interrupted only by a series of seemingly random, uninspired and, in The Governator's case, creepy cameos that attempt but fail to recreate the appealing gimmick of the 1956 movie version. Starring Steve Coogan, Jackie Chan, Cecile de France, Ewen Bremner, Karen Joy Morris and Jim Broadbent. Directed by Frank Coraci. Written by David Titcher and David Benullo & David Goldstein. Produced by Hal Lieberman and Bill Badalato. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG for action violence, some crude humor and mild language. Running time: 120 min

Tags: Steve Coogan, Jackie Chan, Cecile de France, Ewen Bremner, Karen Joy Morris, Jim Broadbent, Frank Coraci, David Titcher, David Benullo, David Goldstein, Hal Lieberman, Bill Badalato, Buena Vista, Comedy, scientific, cultures, British
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