June 28, 2004 12:00 PM

Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan


You’re either a Rob Schneider fan, or you’re not. So the fact that the–let’s be nice here–modestly talented star of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo provides one of the funnier cameos in this lame remake of Jules Verne’s classic novel about global travel in the late 1800s signals the low level of humor to which this uninspired enterprise aspires. Low as in loaded with pratfalls, bodies slamming into walls to allegedly hilarious effect and folks losing their pants. Eight-year-olds will be amused, particularly boys partial to the antics of the Three Stooges, but anyone else will be impatiently counting the days until journey’s end.

The film’s hero remains priggish English inventor Phileas Fogg (Coogan), who wagers that he can circumnavigate the earth in 80 days. He often takes a backseat in this remake to his savvier traveling companions, his Chinese valet (Chan), who’s a whiz at martial arts, and a feisty French artist (Cécile de France).

As in the 1956 version, the cameos are the thing here. Arnold Schwarzenegger, flexing his acting muscles one last time before he became California’s gov, yuks it up as a lecherous Turkish pasha, and Kathy Bates as a haughty Queen Victoria and Jim Broadbent, World‘s pompous villain, have a scene near the film’s end that displays actual wit, but by then it’s 79 days too late. (PG)

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