Around the World in 80 Days


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"It's wholesome violence for the entire family."




Around the World

in 80 Days
The Masked Reviewer

Hooray!  It's time for a new Jackie Chan movie!  Like most of the rest of the world, the Masked Reviewer loves Jackie Chan.  He is, after all, the biggest movie star in the entire world!  Sure, it helps to have China under your belt, but over the past several years, Jackie Chan has become wildly popular in the United States.  Unfortunately, Hollywood seems to have decided that Jackie Chan is only effective in one partciular movie formula: Jackie plus comedic talking guy plus lame script equals box office silver! 

This formula has worked some times better than others.  Rush Hour, Rush Hour 2, Shanghai Knights and Shanghai Noon were all successful.  The Medallion and The Tuxedo were not. 

This time, Jackie Chan is set against Steve Coogan, who plays an awkward English inventor. 

Now, it should be pointed out that Around the World in 80 Days is a remake of the 1956 classic starring David Niven, available here on DVD.  It is also an adaptation of the novel by Jules Verne.  But, not really.  The Masked Reviewer doesn't remember a sub-plot with a group of Chinese assassins and an ancient artifact that must be returned to a village.  In fact, a lot has changed from the original source material, and what we're left with is a setting for a wacky family adventure.

What's that?  Did the Masked Reviewer go loco?  Family adventure?  Oh no!  Say it isn't so!

Sadly, yes, Jackie Chan fans.  You should know, and the Masked Reviewer is here to tell you.  This is a family film.  Actually, it's a kid's film.  After creating his own cartoon ("Jackie Chan Adventures"), Jackie Chan has grown into an icon for kids.  The writing is for kids.  The special effects are for kids.  Even the fighting is for kids, although Jackie Chan's fight choreography has always been more about ballet than violence.  It's slapstick through and through, but you know...if anyone is going to do slapstick, it should be the master, and that is Jackie Chan.

The Masked Reviewer probably shouldn't have expected the movie to be made for grown-ups; but the Masked Reviewer did expect it to cater a little bit more to the adult fans.  There are moments that grown-ups will appreciate, such as a huge number of cameos, many of which are quite good.  It's like watching It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World -- you never know who will pop up next and it's fun to try and spot them all.  Also, there are some good fight scenes that feature quintessential Jackie Chan fight choreography, which the true fan will want to see.  At it's core, though, this is a PG film.  Not even PG-13.  There's no sexual references and no bad language.  No blood, either.  It's the Keystone Cops, but the slapstick is top notch.

It's wholesome violence for the entire family.

The writing isn't good -- at least, not for adults.  This movie plays huge with kids, especially the 10-and-under crowd.  The jokes fall flat with people over 10, for the most part, though there are some funny situations and lines.  It did seem to drag in parts, and the few fight scenes are a welcome respite.  A little bit more for the adults would have been welcome.

Jackie Chan is charismatic and funny as always in this film.  His co-stars are also charming and the three main characters seem to have a good chemistry.  Everyone seems to like each other, which comes through on screen.  The cameos are great and some will amuse viewers to no end. 

Another point worth mentioning is that Jackie Chan has gotten away from the extensive wire work used in The Medallion and The Tuxedo.  Sure, there's some stuff on wires, but it's "natural" looking.  There's very few quadruple backflips or running up walls.  The realistic "physics" is nice to see again, even if set in a cartoonish environment.

It's Jackie Chan, so the Masked Reviewer can't give it a bad review.  For adults who don't know Jackie Chan, you should keep in mind that it's a kid's film.  Even though the writing isn't funny for grown-ups, it's more entertaining than many children's movies.  It has a wacky charm about it that gets a bit lost with the strange sub-plot, but the over-the-top acting you expect in this kind of film works pretty well.  Director Frank Coraci (who you remember as director of The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer) has a knack for bringing the style of acting often used in children's movies (broad, silly, goofy) to adult films, and with younger audiences, he knocks it out of the park. 

True Jackie Chan fans will want to see this, because Jackie's in it.  That's reason enough.  It's arguably better than some of his recent films.  If you don't know Jackie Chan and you're forced to take a minivan full of kids to an afternoon matinee, this is the one to go to.


Expectation from the Title: A circumnavigation story that takes just about ten and a half weeks.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Jackie Chan brings kung-fooey goodness to the whole family.

The Pros: Some nice fight scenes, great cameos, kids will think it's "da bomb".

The Cons: It's a kid's movie, not enough in there for adult audiences, and it's certainly not what people would think of as a Jackie Chan film.


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