Cast: Steve Coogan, Jackie Chan, Cécile De France, Jim Broadbent
Director: Frank Coraci
Writer: David Titcher and David Benullo & David Goldstein Based on the novel by Jules Verne
Rated: PG medium level violence, low level coarse language
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Let Your Imagination Soar
An eccentric London inventor, Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan), has come up with the secrets to flight, electricity, and even in-line skates, but the establishment has dismissed him as a crackpot. Desperate to be taken seriously, Fogg makes an outlandish bet with Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent), the head of the Royal Academy of Science: to circumnavigate the globe in no more than 80 days! With his valet Passepartout (Jackie Chan) and thrill-seeking French artist Monique (Cécile De France) at his side, Fogg is headed on a frantic, heart-pounding round-the-world race that takes our heroes to the world's most exotic places by land, sea, and air. Along the way, our heroes face many adventures and obstacles from an all-star cast including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathy Bates, and Rob Schneider. Frank Coraci ('The Wedding Singer', 'The Waterboy') helms.
'Around The World In 80 Days' is very slow to get going but when it does it makes up for the tedious start by some great cameos and some fun, knock-about slap-stick action, very predictable at times but still fun.
Steve Coogan is perfect for the role of Phileas Fogg, a man who has a passion for invention but is rather insecure about his passion. He makes the wager about going around the world in 80 days with Lord Kelvin on a 'shoot now ask questions later' type whim. He knows he hasn't got any idea how he is going to pull the idea off, but goes ahead anyway, which is half the fun right there. Having Jackie Chan as his side-kick is a great idea providing the classic chalk and cheese character scenario. Jackie's character - Passepartout - provides numerous opportunities to display his huge talents in martial arts and acrobatics. He has come to London to steal back a jade Buddha that belongs to his village in China and he inadvertently becomes Fogg's ally and ultimately, his close friend. Monique is collected in France, and will later become Fogg's love interest as she talks her way into being included on the trip. Fogg, Passé partout and Monique become firm friends by the films end and learn new lessons about friendship, loyalty and relationships along the way.
'Around The World In 80 Days' by the mere title suggests many locations and it does indeed include many countries, although most of the movie was actually shot in Berlin, Germany and Thailand. Each country visited brings new characters, which is where the fabulous cameos really stand out. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Prince Hapi, a man who gets what he wants and is after wife number 7 - one for every day of the week. It was great to see the joke on Arnie, especially his hair, and good on him for allowing it. Other highlight cameos include Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson as the Wright Brothers where Fogg gets his plans for creating a flying machine, a delightful Kathy Bates as Queen Victoria is too perfect for words, and an all too short cameo from John Cleese as a grumpy sergeant. It was guessing the next cameo that brought much anticipation.
'Around The World In 80 Days' is definitely a family movie, which provides a cross-section of entertainment. It mixes action, adventure, romance and comedy together in a blend so that there is something for everyone, which is a rarity and much appreciated. Sure, some of the cameos and comedy may go over the heads of the younger viewers but that is made up for by the action and sheer volume of exciting adventures - who wouldn't want to be along for the ride?
Rating : B-