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Thursday, June 10, 2004 12:58 pm

Movie Review

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It only seems like 80 days

Halfway through Around the World in 80 Days, a poor man, locked up for a petty crime, cries out, "Please, let me go! I'm bored!"

That's pretty much what I was thinking as I sat in the theater, wondering, "Are we there yet?"

This Disneyfied version of Jules Verne's famous adventure tale is missing all of the elements that could have made it a success. A lack of imagination, amateurish special effects, and a repetitious plot make for a colossal bore, written primarily to introduce aging martial-arts star Jackie Chan to a young audience. Director Frank Coraci takes enormous liberties with Verne's classic, excising long passages from the book and adding meaningless vignettes so that second-rate movie stars can drop in for cameos.

I labored under the apparent misconception that inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan), who bets he can make it around the world in 80 days, was the main character of the story. In this version, it's his valet, Passepartout (Chan), who is the heart of the story -- kicking, jumping, and climbing his way around the world. That leaves Coogan with little to do other than look frumpy and act frustrated.

80 Days does have one bright spot, though: French actress Cécile De France, as Fogg and Passepartout's traveling companion Monique, proves an utter delight. She's worth taking on a trip around the world, but she should have been spared a ride on this train wreck.

What other critics are saying. . .

The Chronicles of Riddick [PG-13]Vin Diesel returns in the sequel to his first hit, Pitch Black, as an escaped alien convict who can see in the dark. The story picks up five years later as Riddick becomes involved in a galactic war. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

The Day After Tomorrow [PG-13] Global warming throws the world into chaos. "The only truly scary thing about this doomsday popcorn flick is the monumental ineptitude of the acting, writing and directing." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) Route 66 Drive In

Garfield [PG] The famous cartoon cat finally comes to the big screen in a mix of live action and CGI animation. Bill Murray seems the ideal choice to voice the cat with an attitude. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

The Ladykillers [R] A professor assembles a group of thieves for a casino heist. After they hole up in a sweet old woman's home, they find that she's the biggest threat to their plans. Tom Hanks stars. "The Coens' remake of a comedy classic flounders amid extreme caricatures and strained humor. (Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter)
White Oaks

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra [PG] In a parody of '50s-era science fiction flicks, a dedicated scientist, aided by his clueless wife, tries to save the world from a radioactive monster."When such amazing artifacts of genuine 1950s ineptitude as Robot Monster are available on DVD, it's hard to imagine why anyone would prefer this ersatz cult readymade..." (John Beifuss, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis) Route 66 Drive In

Man on Fire [R]A former Marine (Denzel Washington) swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect. "Audiences need to be aware that the violence is intense, but also very creative." (Marc Sigoloff, Illinois Times) Parkway Pointe

Mean Girls [PG-13]Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic. "You gotta love a film that poses the vital question: 'Is butter a carb?' " (Gregory Weinkauf, New Times newspapers) Parkway Pointe

Raising Helen [PG-13] After her sister and brother-in-law die in a car accident, a young woman (Kate Hudson) becomes the guardian of their three children. "The characters are clichéd, and their predicaments are familiar." (Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune) Parkway Pointe

Saved! [PG-13] A girl at a Southern Baptist high school gets pregnant and becomes an outcast. "Spares us from offending any religious sensibilities by insulting our intelligence instead." (Jan Stuart, Newsday) Parkway Pointe

Shrek 2 [PG] Princess Fiona's parents invite her and Shrek to dinner to celebrate her marriage, not realizing that the newlyweds are green ogres. "Shrek 2 brims with perverse pleasures that show no respect for the rules of kiddie-cartoon form." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

The Stepford Wives [PG-13]Nicole Kidman stars in this remake of a mediocre 1970s science-fiction thriller about a suburban town whose female citizens are too perfect and very artificial. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

Troy [R] An adaption of Homer's epic about the siege of Troy by the Greeks. Brad Pitt stars as Achilles. Eric Bana is Hector. Orlando Bloom is Paris. "This is The Iliad as a WWE SmackDown: violent fights, snappy insults and a connoisseur's idolatry of beautiful brawn." (Richard Corliss, Time); "Troy, besides being tremendously entertaining, is the best crib-sheet guide to Homer ever." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
Parkway Pointe

Van Helsing [PG-13] Legendary 19th century monster hunter Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) heads to Eastern Europe to do battle with Count Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein. "A noisy, 19th-century fantasy adventure that goes nowhere." (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer) ShowPlace West

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