An eccentric inventor bets that he can circumnavigate the world in
eighty days with the help of his Chinese valet and a French artist.
Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Directed by Frank Coraci
Written by David N. Titcher, David Benullo, David Andrew Goldstein
Starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cécile De France,
Jim Broadbent, Ewen Bremner, Karen Mok, David Ryall,
Ian McNeice, Adam Godley, Roger Hammond, Mark Addy
Remake of 1956's Around the World in Eighty Days
Based on the novel by Jules Verne
Despite being a remake of a Best Picture winner and loosely based on one of the most famous adventure novels of all time, the 2004 diet cola remake of Around the World in 80 Days is actually more entertaining than at least 69% of critics led you to believe. Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan make for a fun duo, though Coogan is no Owen Wilson, that's for sure. The constant change in setting, Chan's impeccable action sequences, and the variety of fun cameos help make this film not only bearable but almost delightful.
I would wager most well-read people know the story of Phileas Fogg, who bet the Academy of Science that he could travel the entire world in eighty days or less. In this version, Fogg makes the same bet, but now there's a Chinese warlord after him for reasons that are never fully explained. Jim Broadbent rarely gets to play a bad guy, so it was clear he was enjoying his role, but apart from his side deal with the warlord, his motives aren't too clear. This was the film's main issue as far as I'm concerned. There's very little explanation for the conflict and eventually the warlord subplot just sort of resolves itself. It wound up being confusing and added nothing to the interesting and fun part of the story.
Still, Around the World in 80 Days never once declared it was a masterpiece, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and accepted it for what it is: A fun family comedy that banked entirely on Jackie Chan and lost the box office miserably. But with cameos from Owen and Luke Wilson, John Cleese, Rob Schneider, Kathy Bates, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film remains fresh and entertaining throughout. Apart from some plot confusion, I really didn't have a problem with it. Hell, I'd probably watch it again at some point.