||read the review
Review by Harvey Karten
2 stars out of 4
Ask people what they would do if they knew they had only a
year to live, and you're likely to get the answer "travel the world,"
as though an experience with cultures other than your own
would be a fitting and exciting conclusion to a well-lived life. As
you watch Frank Coraci's version of "Around the World in 80
Days," you might be prompted to change your views, because
while the cultures seen in China, India and Turkey are even
more diverse at the close of the 19th Century than they are
today, you get the impression that anywhere you go outside of
home would put you in jeopardy of losing your remaining few
months. Whereas Michael Anderson's well-spent 167 minutes
in the 1956 version of the movie starring David Niven and
Cantinflas gratefully used no computer generated images,
Niven's sophistication is lost on Steve Coogan and Cantinflas's
charm is sadly missing in Jackie Chan.
Though Anderson's "Around the World" featured even more
cameo appearances than Coraci's (40–count ‘em), leading
viewers to star-gaze, brief appearances by the likes of Kathy
Bates as Queen Victoria, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Turkish
Prince Hapi and Owen and Luke Wilson as the Wright Brothers
do little to advance what little story there is. Essentially, Jules
Verne's novel, as adapted for the screen by a committee of
three forgoes plot in favor of pratfalls while story bows out in
favor of stereotypes.
police after lifting an invaluable jade Buddha from the London
museum, a statue that was stolen by Imperial Britain from a
small Chinese village and destined to be returned by a Lao
Xing, who goes under the name of Passepartout. Lao quickly
hitches a ride with Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan "24-Hour Party
People," "Coffee and Cigarettes"), an inventor who makes a
wager with the head of the Royal Academy of Science, the
pompous Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent). If Fogg can
circumnavigate the globe within 80 days, Kelvin promises to
resign his chairmanship in Fogg's favor. If Fogg fails, he agrees
to dismantle his laboratory and never again practice science
because, as one lord states, everything that can be invented
has already been offered.
This road-, water- and air-buddy movie is an excuse for
Coraci to plunge Passpartout and Fogg and also an
impressionist painter they pick up in Paris, Monique (Cecile De
France), into life-threatening dangers. As though getting about
the globe in under 3 months were not difficult enough, the three
must extricate themselves from fighters known as the Black
Scorpions, who attempt to stop the trio dead in their tracks.
Pratfall follows pratfall, with Jackie Chan again executing his
martial arts moves with the help of some computer generation,
Cecile De France nurturing a budding romance with Steve
Coogan, and the three slamming into walls, toppling statues,
and regularly saving one another's lives. A cameo by Governor
Schwarzenegger is the one gem of the film, a role that has
Arnold fitted out as a Turkish prince eager to make Monique his
seventh wife, "one for each night of the week" and "Would
Tuesdays work for you?"
If you seek wit and sophistication in a movie about world
travel, rent the videocassette of the 1956 film of the same name.
If you prefer tumbles and goofs and have not had your fill of
martial arts, the current rendition will do just fine.
Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten