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Around the World in 80 Days

1 rating: 3.0
Action & Adventure movie

The 2004 version ofAround the World in 80 Daysis an entertaining hodge-podge of adventure, comedy, and scenery from across the globe. Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan,24 Hour Party People), an obsessively precise inventor, bets that he can circumnavigate the … see full wiki

Cast: Jackie Chan
Genre: Action, Adventure
1 review about Around the World in 80 Days

Better Then It Looks

  • Oct 29, 2004
I did not see "Around the World in 80 Days" in theaters. Even though I am a big Jackie Chan fan the previews I saw looked VERY unpromising?! What WAS Jackie Chan doing in a movie like this?! A loose remake of Jules Verns classic book that was modified to include Chinese warlords, hooky inventions, and the Govenator sporting one of the silliest wigs ever seen by man? Was this supposed to be a serious movie or a joke? If it was a joke then I had to laugh, because this "joke" was costing Disney over $100 million to make. Now the movie is on DVD, and I had the opportunity to see it and find out whether or not the movie was what I was expecting it to be. It's not. I have to admit that "Around the World in 80 Days" is a much better film then the previews lead you to believe it is.

The story (generally) goes in the same direction as the book did, but with lots of various twists. Jackie Chan plays Passport Two (not joking) who is a wanted criminal for robbing a bank in England. However what he stole was not money, but a statue that was stolen from his village, and now he must bring it back. Unfortunately for Passport Two, he is now a wanted criminal, and the British guards are looking for him on every street they can. By pure luck Passport Two is taken under the wing of Phileas Fogg, who is a crazy inventor who believes that technology can move man forward in evolution. Everyone, of course, things he is crazy, which is why Fogg has no financial support of The Academy of Science and Arts. Conveniently, very shortly after Passport Two becomes Fogg's right hand man, Fogg makes a bet with the Academy that if he could go around the world in 80 days, that he would become the new head of the Academy.

The downside of this though is that if Fogg loses the race he must never invent another thing ever again. At first Fogg regrets making the bet, but Passport Two encourages him to go on the race and follow his dream. However Passport Two is not suggesting this because he has taken a liking to Fogg, he's simply helping him because he wants to use this race to get the statue he stole back from the bank back into China as fast as he can. Once the race starts the movie starts to resemble the Jules Vern novel less and less, as strange character shows up after strange character, along with TONS of celebrity cameos from a bunch of Hollywood stars that I'll let you spot for yourself, as spotting the cameos is one of the best things about this movie (and is also a nod to the original "Around the World in 80 Days," which featured tons of Hollywood cameos too).

If you are someone who has read Jules Verns novel and loved it to death for years, then you have two options with this movie: You can either hate it for not being a "faithfully" true adaptation of the book, or you can look at the changes to the story with an open mind. One of the biggest complaints Disney's previous $100+ million dollar flop "Treasure Planet" had was that it wasn't true to the novel by setting the story in space. My response was "so?" If Disney had made "Treasure Planet" just another version of "Treasure Island" except animated, then there would be very little to the movie that would separate it from all the other "Treasure Island" movies. By placing the story in space, the directors made the movie stand out.

The same situation applies here. There is already a classic "Around the World in 80 Days" movie, and Disney knew there would be no way to make a movie that would even compare to the classic. So since you can't compete, why not go in a different direction? By making the movie more of a fantasy comedy this version of "Around the World in 80 Days" makes itself a true original from the classic, and for people who may not be open to the changes the classic still remains for them. And what an imagination this movie has. There may not be much magic or powers, but the mere "ideas" this movie presents are very clever! After seeing the Arnold scene in the actual movie I can understand why Disney put this in the movie: The scene is hilarious on various different levels. Unfortunately the clip they chose to put in the movie just looks silly, and it might have been better for people to discover this excellent joke for themselves instead of turning them off with an incomplete joke in the previews.

Another thing that should be noted is that this movie is not as family friendly as Disney would like you to think it is. Kids will like the bright colors this movie presents, and I'm sure they'll get a kick out of watch Jackie Chan kick butt (no pun intended), but the overall story and sense of humor is far more mature then your average family film provides, and I actually suspect that kids just won't flat out "get" most of the jokes presented here. The in-jokes for this movie are not satires of other Hollywood movies, but are instead satires of history and historical figures, most of which the 6 to 10 year old crowd won't be familiar with (or at the very least, not know ENOUGH about to get the jokes). The back of the box also forgets to mention the sexual innuendo's that are contained within this movie, making this PG rated film one of the more "adult" PG rated movies to come out in awhile.

So will this movie find an audience now that it is on DVD? Most likely not. Disney is still giving us the impression that this is a kids movie, and after 30 days the movie will most likely be put back into the Disney vault, never to come out again (Disney doesn't treat their flops with much respect). One can only hope that word of mouth will get out and people will give this movie a chance. But if they don't then I won't blame them. How are they supposed to know there is a perfectly fine and clever comedy hidden in this film with a cover like that?

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