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Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Around the World in Eighty Days

Let your imagination soar.

Directed by:

Frank Coraci

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 120 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

Purists hoping to see an accurate adaptation of Jules Verne’s celebrated novel or even a competent remake of the classic 50s flick starring David Niven should be warned here and now: don’t. For ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ bears little resemblance to either of them.

Sure, it works on the same premise: an eccentric 1870s toff by the name of Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) accepts a wager from his peers that he can’t circumnavigate the globe in the space of 80 days. But this is the first time I can recall seeing scene after scene of martial arts worked into the story (thanks to the presence of Jackie Chan as Fogg’s high-kicking Chinese companion Passepartout). Then again, what’s wrong with taking a bit of artistic license? It worked in the 1980s kids’ TV series when they turned all of the characters into animals and changed the lead’s name to “Willy”. So why not play around with the story a bit?

The fact is that what Frank Coraci gives us here is an enjoyable, family-friendly adventure flick. It’s got some holes in the plot, it’s a little overly-cartoony in places, and it sometimes feels a bit rushed (80 days are, after all, a heckuva lot to squeeze into two hours) – but I had a better time at this one than I’ve had at many of this year’s releases. Chan’s always amusing to watch and, for Coogan, this marks his best attempt yet at escaping the ever-looming persona of Alan Partridge. Of course we all know the British public will never quite accept him as anyone other than Partridge (something he seems to be finding increasingly irritating if various interviews are anything to go by), but the guy should at least be commended on making a valiant effort.

This isn’t the best comedy of the year but I chuckled enough times throughout to give it a thumbs up. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in perhaps his last big screen appearance for quite some time, makes a particularly entertaining cameo as a sleazy Turkish prince, and others joining in for our amusement include the great Owen and Luke Wilson, Ewen Bremner, John Cleese and Kathy Bates. Add up-and-coming Belgian hottie Cecile De France into the mix as Fogg’s requisite love interest and you’re left with a combination that hits more often than it misses.

It's Got: The Ten Tigers taking on Mr Grumpy and the Leatherettes.

It Needs: Someone to invent an electric sideburn-trimmer.

Alternatives:

Around the World in Eighty Days (1956 version)

Summary

Silly but fun – take the whole family along.

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