Chan's problems are indicative of many others faced by this overblown $110 million mess. Even as production was finishing, a distributor had not been found. Not surprisingly, Disney eventually picked up the film. Yet, what is surprising is Disney's decision not to distribute a challenging film like Fahrenheit 9/11, but instead to release this one, a flavorless and disgraceful remake.
The story, based on the novel by Jules Verne, is about a late 19th century inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) and his valet Passepartout (Chan) who seek to circumnavigate the world in 80 days to collect on a bet with the head of the Royal Academy (Jim Broadbent). In this version, Passepartout, whose real name is Lau Xing, has stolen a priceless statue of Buddha from the Bank of England that he claims belongs to his village in China. By joining Fogg on his journey, Passepartout hopes to return the Buddha back to his people without getting caught by Scotland Yard or an evil Chinese warlord named General Fang.
The first stop finds Fogg and Passepartout in a Parisian artist colony where they meet a coat-check girl and wannabe Impressionist painter Monique La Roche (Cécile De France) who believes traveling with them will inspire her. The trio make their way from France to Turkey to India with curious ease, and a total lack of whimsy. Their adventures are not thrilling, their humor is not amusing, and their antics are simply loud and obnoxious.
When they finally make it to China, we're already exhausted by the journey. World labors in Passepartout's village much longer than it needs to. It's here where Passepartout engages in numerous fights with Fang's men, and Fogg realizes Passepartout's true motivation for the journey. After taking too long to resolve the ridiculous Buddha plotline, World then fast-tracks it to the finish line by flying through San Francisco, Death Valley, and New York in record time. Blink and you may miss cameos by Rob Schneider, as a hobo who preaches that stink is a beggar's best friend, and brothers Luke and Owen Wilson, as bicycle peddlers Orville and Wilbur Wright. Truth be told, you're not missing much even if you do catch the cameos.
There are other cameos smattered throughout the film including Kathy Bates as the Queen of England, John Cleese as a frazzled Scotland Yard sergeant, and singer Macy Gray as a sleeping French woman. The longest cameo is reserved for Arnold Schwarzenegger as the self-absorbent and womanizing (how about that) Prince Hapi of Turkey. Most of these are just yawning gimmicks - shameful glimpses to link this horrid remake to its cameo-laden, Oscar winning counterpart.
There will be no Oscars for director Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer) and his remake. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky his film doesn't run the three hours that its predecessor did, or we'd all have enough time to make it around the world and back.
The DVD includes the feature with original and alternate opening scenes, a handful of outtakes, a commentary by the cast and crew, and a couple of making-of featurettes.
Up the stairs in 80 minutes.
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
Director: Frank Coraci