Around the World in 80 Days is definitely a product of its time

Around the World in 80 Days | Disney MoviesStory

In 1980's London, a Chinese man named Lau Xing is on the run from the police after robbing The Bank of England. He crosses path with an inventor named Phileas Fogg and is hired as his valet under the name Passepartout. Together they get roped into a bet where they have to go around the world in exactly 80 days.

I never knew this movie was based a book and after finding out that the movie deviated greatly from its source material I want to read the book. The only way to describe the story (and movie as a whole) is wacky. And there were moments where I really liked that about it.

Acting 

Jackie Chan makes this movie! He is his charismatic self and if any of you have seen any of his movies or his show on Cartoon Network, you know exactly what I mean. Passepartout has the best jokes and is incredibly likeable and it balances out with all the other characters who aren't as likeable.  He really is the heart of the film.

Steve Coogan plays Phileas Fogg who probably has the best arch in the entire movie. He starts the movie as a condescending loner who learns how to appreciate others especially those he may have once ignored like a beggar in San Fransisco. I stated above that other characters aren't as likeable as Passepartout and I meant Phileas when I said that. He's the quirky inventor that you're supposed to root for to win (literally) and I didn't always believe that. However, his chemistry with Jackie Chan flows really organically which makes the movie-watching experience as a whole better.

There are also tons of celebrity cameos, Kathy Bates, Rob Schneider, Luke and Owen Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger (sidenote: Can you believe that THIS was Arnie's last role before his hiatus? Shocking I know) The cameos are distracting and I am not going to dwell on the fact that ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER was cast as a TURKISH prince. This was so jarring and I am not even going to talk about the whitewashing.

Writing/Direction

 This is where I have the most gripes and I am going to start with the pacing. This movie is too long. At the 1 hour mark (1 hour 15 minutes to be exact) the movie feels like it grinds to a halt. Even though we get a revelation prior to this point that changes the trajectory of the movie is still feels slow and dull. There are a number of scenes that felt like they were going on for too long and because of that, I found myself checking out. If the filmmakers had found a way to shave off 20 minutes the film as a whole might have flowed better.

Now comes by biggest gripe with the movie. The writing is outdated and because of that, the jokes don't land like they are supposed to and some of the visual gags come across as a little cringey. Do I feel like this because I'm no longer in the target demographic or because the jokes simply aren't funny? I'm not sure but it's one of the reasons I didn't enjoy the movie as much as I did when I was younger. And also hearing a white man from England call Chinese people savages is NOT AND WILL NEVER BE FUNNY.

I just found out that the director has worked on a lot of Adam Sandler movies and it makes a lot of sense now. (but that is a story for another day)

CGI/Set Design

Ahhhhh, early 2000's CGI that looks glaringly obvious almost 20 years later. I'm not going to roast too much because the animators did what they could and even though it looks pretty bad, I got used to it really quickly. I do have to say that the film has a distinct visual style and it would be really interesting to see what it would look like if it was made today.

The interesting thing about the set design is that it feels as though there wasn't enough money in the budget as some sets look really good while others... not so much. Given the tone and story, the overall look of the movie makes sense. In any other aspect, I would roast but not this time.

Score/Soundtrack 

It is very rare that I don't pay attention to the score and it is for a few reasons, either I am too engrossed in the movie to pay attention to it, I really don't care about anything that is going on, or the movie never really carves out a sound that makes me want to listen. And in this case its the latter. I honestly don't remember anything about the score apart from what I think generic adventure movie scores sound like. There is also a song that plays through the credits that I thought was awful and turned off as soon as it started playing.

Overall Thoughts

I honestly don't know how to feel about this movie. There were moments where I was really into it, moments where I cringed and moments where I checked out completely. When the movie was released it was met with mixed reviews and I see why.

It's not a bad movie but I wouldn't necessarily run out to watch it again. I enjoyed it a lot as a child but I'm older and a lot of the jokes seem rudimentary and mundane.  This is the kind of movie you watch every few years because it's kinda absurd and you need to have no preconceived notions (or have forgotten them). I haven't seen it in over 10 years and it's a good thing because I don't really remember anything about it, so it really was like I watching it for the first time. While the outdated (and sometimes offensive) jokes and weird celebrity cameos took me out of the film, Jackie Chan's charm and some genuinely funny moments brought me back.

Another way to describe this movie is a Disney movie that doesn't have all the Disney magic.

Nostalgia is one hell of a drug.

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