Around the World in 80 Days

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Jackie Chan as Passepartout/Lau Xing
Steve Coogan as Phileas Fogg
Cécile De France as Monique La Roche
Jim Broadbent as Lord Kelvin
Karen Mok as General Fang (as Karen Joy Morris)
Ewen Bremner as Inspector Fix
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Prince Hapi
Sammo Hung Kam-Bo as Wong Fei Hung (as Sammo Hung)
Rob Schneider as San Francisco Hobo
Luke Wilson as Orville Wright
Owen Wilson as Wilbur Wright
Mark Addy as Steamer Captain
John Cleese as Grizzled Sergeant
Kathy Bates as Queen Victoria

Special Features:
Audio Commentary

Nine Deleted Scenes – With director Frank Coraci’s introduction, plus optional commentary for each scene.

2nd Version of the Film – With director’s alternate opening and optional commentary from director Frank Coraci and actor Steve Coogan.

“Discovering Around the World in 80 Days”
A behind-the-scenes, on-location look at the making of the film.

“Around the World of Jackie Chan” – A behind-the-scenes look at Jackie Chan’s amazing stunt choreography. Go on the set of “Around the World in 80 Days” with Jackie Chan as they film Jackie’s fun and entertaining action sequences. Includes interviews with Jackie Chan and his fellow filmmakers.

Music Video “Everybody All Over the World” – Performed by Dave Stewart and the Sylvia School Children’s Choir.

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 120 Minutes

Synopsis:
“Around the World in 80 Days” is loosely based on the novel by Jules Verne. The following is the text from the DVD cover:

“Eccentric London inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan, “24 Hour Party People”) has come up with the secrets to flight, electricity, and even in-line skates, but the world has dismissed him as a crackpot. Desperate to be taken seriously, Fogg makes an outlandish bet with Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent “Moulin Rouge”), the head of the Royal Academy of Science: to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days!

Joined by Passepartout (Jackie Chan) and femme fatale Monique (Cécile De France), Fog heads on a frantic, heart-pounding round-the-world race that takes our heroes to the world’s most exotic places by land, sea and air. Along the way, our heroes face many adventures and obstacles in an incredible adventure-of-a-lifetime.”

“Around the World in 80 Days” is rated PG for action violence, some crude humor and mild language

The Movie:
“Around the World in 80 Days” really has very little to do with the original Jules Verne novel beyond the basic concept of a race around the world. If you’re not expecting a direct adaptation, then it’s OK. Otherwise, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather than being an adventure story, this is primarily a children’s comedy with some martial arts thrown in.

There are two noteworthy things about this film. The first is Jackie Chan. In the book, his character was minor and there certainly wasn’t any sub-plot about the Jade Budda or any fighting. In fact, Chan pretty much hijacks the entire film and makes it his own. As a Jules Verne fan I was a little upset to see all the liberties taken with the story. But as a Jackie Chan fan, I just enjoyed seeing him do his famous stunts. He has four major fight scenes in the film. One is a hilarious battle in an art studio that eventually spills out into the streets of Paris then into a hot air balloon. A second major fight takes place in an Indian village with Chan handcuffed to one of his pursuers. The third fight scene takes place in Passepartout’s home village as he takes on a large gang of thugs and then is joined by Sammo Hung and a group of other fighters. The final battle takes place in New York in a warehouse that holds the uncompleted Statue of Liberty. All of these battles have great comedic moments and if you’re a Chan fan you’ll get quite a kick out of them (pun intended).

The second most notable thing about “Around the World in 80 Days” is the amazing variety of cameos. Most notable among them is Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Turkish prince. He hams it up to the fullest as man with a wife for every day of the week. A big Thinker statue of himself from Rodin exemplifies his character’s vanity. While the fact that Schwarzenegger is essentially in blackface in order to play a Turkish man is distracting, his cameo is pretty funny. Luke and Owen Wilson also have really funny cameos as Orville and Wilbur Wright. Owen gets the best lines, but they make an amusing duo. It almost feels like you’re watching another Shanghai Noon sequel when you see them on screen with Chan. Mark Addy also has a funny moment as a Steamer Captain who has had a nasty run in with a shark. Also look for John Cleese, Macy Gray, Rob Schneider, and Kathy Bates as Queen Victoria.

I found the script of this film to be generally quite funny. There was some really amusing dialogue in it. For example, when Chan tries to convince Fogg that he’s French despite his Asian accent, he says, “My father was French and quiet. My mother was Chinese and never shut up. We grew up talking like her.” Later on there’s a running gag about “bird men” attacking the city that cracked me up. It goes on like this throughout the film. But despite the clever dialogue, this is still definitely a kid’s flick. There’s a lot of slapstick comedy and pratfalls. Jackie Chan, with a rocket pack strapped on his back, flies around in a silly manner. They later fly in a pedal powered airplane that would fall like a brick in real life. Animated segments showing the locations that our heroes travel to reinforce this surreal setting. They are very cartoony and are fanciful. If you can suspend your disbelief for a while, you may enjoy this.

If you’re looking for a film that is entertaining for the whole family, then “Around the World in 80 Days” will probably fit the bill. Overall it’s a bit bland, but there’s a little something for everyone here. Jackie Chan fans will probably enjoy as well. It’s not as intense as his earlier work, but it still has his trademark humor and amazing acrobatics.

The Extras:
There are a few bonus features included on this DVD. Here are the highlights:

Audio Commentary – Frank Coraci and Steve Coogan provide the commentary for the film. Since Coogan has such a dry British sense of humor and Coraci is a spaz, the commentary is quite amusing. They say a lot of jokes about what happened on the set how they filmed scenes, and more.

Deleted Scenes – There are nine deleted scenes including an introduction by director Frank Coraci (as well as optional commentary). They include a cameo by John Cleese early in the film, a scene of Lord Kelvin mocking Louis Pasteur’s idea about vaccines, Fogg showing more of his inventions, and a scene of a blind man falling down stairs as Chan hangs from the balloon outside his window. Other scenes feature Fogg laying into his friends more when he finds out he’s been used, Monique painting the airplane like a ‘flying chicken’, and the steamer captain showing that he has no nipples. One scene features more of Rob Schneider meeting Chan and de France. Fogg makes an amusing comment to her saying, “Ah, it’s your French ‘never surrender’ spirit that I love so much.” That one cracked me up. It looked to me like most of the scenes were removed because of potentially offensive material.

Alternate Opening – In this brief alternate opening from the film, the credits in the flying clouds transition to Fogg dreaming about himself flying in his machine. The airplane then takes off into space and he sees a talking chicken wearing pajamas. It’s funny and cartoony, but since Fogg himself is never shown, it doesn’t make a lot of since until he appears on screen. It’s a nice thing to have included, though.

“Discovering Around the World in 80 Days” Featurette – This is your standard “making of” feature. They discuss how they changed the characters from the novel, how they decided on the cast, and other stuff. When the crew isn’t gushing about their stars, there is quite a lot of behind the scenes footage. In fact, a lot of Jackie Chan’s trademark outtakes are included here. This feature is about 20 minutes long.

“Around The World Of Jackie Chan” Featurette – This is a 6 ½ minute video detailing Jackie Chan and his stunt work on the film. Fans of Chan will really enjoy this one. They talk about how they came up with the ideas for some of the stunts, how Chan directs the fights, and other stuff.

“Everybody All Over The World” Music Video – This video is performed by Dave Stewart and the Sylvia School Children’s Choir. The music video is quite fanciful and features cutouts replaying the film and various gadgets, locations, and animals. It’s a creative video and well worth checking out.

The Bottom Line:
Despite being a bit bland and butchering the Jules Verne novel and history, Around the World in 80 Days has some amusing dialogue, entertaining cameos, and amazing fight scenes with Jackie Chan. It is a fun family film that kids will particularly enjoy.

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