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Around the World in 80 Days (2004) – DVD Review


Written by David Titcher, David Benullo, and David Goldstein, based very loosely on the novel by Jules Verne
Directed by Frank Coraci
Starring Jackie Chan, Steve Coogan, Robert Fyfe, Cecile De France, and Jim Broadbent


  • Alternate opening
  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary
  • “Around the World of Jackie Chan” stunt choreography featurette
  • “Discovering Around the World in 80 Days” featurette
  • Running audio commentary with director Coraci and actor Coogan
  • Music Video

Released by: Disney Home Video
Rating: PG
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Skip it

Phileas Fogg (Coogan) is a joke around scientific circles. He finds himself in the company of a rather unlikely group of friends: Lau Xing (Chan) who passes himself off as the French valet Passepartout and Monique La Roche (De France). They have taken on a bet whereby they must circumnavigate the world in no more than eighty days. If they do, Fogg gains the position as the head of the Royal Academy of Science, thereby unseating his arch-rival scientist (who also just happens to be trying to discredit him), Lord Kelvin (Broadbent). If they fail, Fogg must give up on science and all of his whacky inventions…forever.

What a waste of film. As I was watching this movie, I couldn’t help but wish that I had been a fly on the wall of the meeting where this idea was pitched. I can’t imagine who could have thought it would be a good idea to take a classic novel by Jules Verne which is not really an action movie at all, cast Jackie Chan in one of the lead roles (to then give it some action) and then use the rest of the movie as an excuse for weird cameo appearances like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Owen and Luke Wilson (who play the Wright brothers), and John Cleese. It’s just absurd and none of it makes sense at all. This movie absolutely pisses on the original material.

What’s sad is that you might think to yourself, “Well, at least I’ll get to see Chan bust some moves.” But they’re not even really impressive moves. The goofiness of Coogan is not even worthwhile goofiness, especially since he–Fogg, the supposed lead–is cast behind Chan. You could have done something with the history of the time, thrown in some education with your “family fun”–but the gaffs in that department are too numerous to list here. It’s just another example of Hollywood grabbing a “known property” for its name value and then destroying the adaptation. Not even cute, the last stronghold of bad family fare, is applicable.

The DVD is only slightly better than the film deserves. The first featurette is the kind of fluff that you would come to expect from a Disney DVD, i.e. it pays no homage to the original source material whatsoever. It’s filled with interviews with cast and crew who sound more like they are defending the idea of making the movie in the first place rather than commenting about their work. The second featurette is worth watching, however. It’s the one that focuses on Chan’s choreography and what he puts himself through to get the stunts for which he is famous. If you’ve never seen one of these featurettes, I suggest you go rent another of Chan’s movies and see it there. It’s probably safer that way.

Watching the deleted scenes, I found myself wishing that more of the film had found it’s way here. It made me ponder the idea of having an entire movie reside in the deleted scenes section of a DVD. Perhaps that’s a gimmick that someone can pull off on another DVD sometime in the future. Just remember, you read it here first, so when it happens, I want my cut. There is optional commentary from the director, but it’s useless, as he basically says the same thing over every scene: “Well…uhh…we, uh, deleted this scene from the movie…and stuff.”

There is a music video on the DVD, but I’m not going to comment about it because I believe that music videos as bonus material actually only represents laziness on the part of the DVD producers. Oh hell, I guess that’s a comment, isn’t it? Finally, there is an audio commentary with the director and Steve Coogan. They got the right number of people for the commentary track, but they didn’t get the right guy. The director actually admits that he hates recording these commentary tracks; he enjoys listening to other people’s, but hates doing his own. He could have saved himself the time and embarrassment.

I say that this movie is not worth the platic its printed on. Skip it completely and rent something better. Better yet, buy the novel and take the time to read it. It’s a classic that shouldn’t be missed.

Buy it from Amazon.
Buy the original film from Amazon.
Buy the book from Amazon.