Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Cécile De France, Jim Broadbent, Karen Mok, Ewen Bremner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sammo Hung, Violet Pan Ying-Zi, Daniel Wu, Kengo Watanabe, Maggie Q, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Rob Schneider, John Cleese, Will Forte, Kathy Bates, Robert Fyfe, Ian McNeice, David Ryall, Roger Hammond, Adam Godley

Directed by Frank Coraci

Expectations: Low, but it has Jackie and an Arnold cameo, so…


I haven’t seen the 1956 version of Around the World in 80 Days since I was a kid, but my initial feeling was that it didn’t seem like something that lends itself to Jackie Chan. But this new version isn’t so much a remake as it is a complete fantasy/steampunk re-imagining with Jackie Chan’s style in mind from the genesis. A new sub-plot focuses on bringing Jackie’s talents to the forefront, and while it definitely isn’t the most inspired story line, it’s more than enough to entertain and justify the stunts and fights we all look for in a Jackie movie. Fans of the novel and the classic, Oscar-winning film will likely be disappointed by this re-telling, but I feel like fans of Jackie might really enjoy themselves if they click with the film’s comedic style (which probably skews a bit younger than Jackie’s other US films). I know I did, and to be honest I was expecting a total stinker!

Passepartout (Jackie Chan) robs a precious Jade Buddha from the Bank of England and is in need of shelter. He finds it with Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan), an inventor with a rich, creative mind for science. Fogg lacks much life experience “outside the lab,” though, rarely venturing from his home. One of the few places he frequents is the Royal Academy of Science, where he’s regularly laughed at and thought of as an eccentric thinker who lacks the practicality to be useful to the field of science. In a bid to rid themselves of him, the head of the academy, Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent), bets Fogg that his calculation of being able to circumnavigate the world in 80 days is incorrect. The stakes are immense: if Fogg wins, he becomes head of the academy, but if he loses he must give up inventing for the rest of his life. Oh, and a bunch of henchmen are in pursuit of Jackie and his Jade Buddha the whole time, further complicating their travels.

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The Great Muppet Caper (1981)

Starring Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Charles Grodin, Diana Rigg, John Cleese, Robert Morley, Peter Ustinov, Jack Warden, Steve Whitmire

Directed by Jim Henson

Expectations: High. This was always my favorite Muppet movie as a kid.


While The Muppet Movie brought your favorite puppets to the big screen, it was lacking in one major area: plot. I don’t mean this as a knock, the road adventure works well for that film, but The Great Muppet Caper does a great job being its own thing and providing a completely different experience than that original film. So where The Muppet Movie was a string of random events with a shoestring plot, The Great Muppet Caper is almost entirely plot.

Kermit and Fozzie play investigative journalists recently employed by the Daily Chronicle. They’re sent on assignment to London to interview Lady Holiday about her stolen diamonds, but due to a mix-up Kermit thinks Miss Piggy is Lady Holiday. It’s a mystery, it’s a love story, it’s a rollicking good comedy; The Great Muppet Caper is full of life. It’s been almost 20 years since I last watched this, but I saw it so many times in my youth that I was still able to sing along to many of the songs and I remembered large sections of the film shot by shot, and joke by joke. While that might work against some films, it only enriched the experience of re-watching The Great Muppet Caper for me; I was in Muppet heaven.

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