A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Around the World in 80 Days is a 2004 adaptation of the Jules Verne novel. There is a lot of slapstick-, cartoon-, and action-style violence, including many crotch injuries, but no one is seriously hurt. Characters use mild bad language ("bloody hell"). There is some crude and vulgar humor, including bathroom jokes, drunkenness played for comedy, a weird cross-dressing joke, and a comic situation involving a man with many wives. One man who is imprisoned in a box for urinating in public is later shown, after being freed, on the verge of pulling his pants down and urinating in public once again. Rather than being a sidekick or a bad Asian stereotype, Jackie Chan portrays his character as someone just as vivid and intelligent as Phileas Fogg, and unlike so many martial arts movies, women are shown to be just as brave, strong, and skilled as men in the fight scenes.
What's the story?
This retelling of Jules Verne's classic novel centers on Lau Xing (Jackie Chan), valet to inventor Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan). The previous valet quit because he refused to test any more of Fogg's wild contraptions. Xing, on the run after stealing a valuable jade Buddha from the Bank of London, thinks the police will not find him if he's working for Fogg, so he pretends to be French and gives his name as "Passepartout." Fogg's bet with the peppery Lord Kelvin (James Broadbent) that he cannot circle the globe in 80 days provides Xing with the perfect cover for getting to China as quickly as possible to return the Buddha to his small town. There are a lot of stops in exotic locations and a lot of adventures involving obstacles to reaching the next stage of the journey and a few surprising cameo appearances, including Arnold Schwarzenegger as a sybaritic king.
Is it any good?
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS may take its title from the Jules Verne classic, but it's really just a Jackie Chan movie, and a so-so one at that. Overplotted and under-imagined, this movie tries hard to distract the audience with razzle-dazzle, but not even the stunts or fight scenes make much of an impression, and the preposterous final mode of transportation comes across as so lazy a concept it's almost insulting.
Coogan has an endearing sincerity and spirit and Cecile De France has a few nice moments as Monique, a pretty French artist who comes along for the ride. But Chan seems tired, even distracted, impatient to get it all over with.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how transportation has changed since the novel was written -- how many days would it take to circle the globe today?
What would be the challenges in adapting a novel first published in 1873 and making it something fresh for contemporary audiences?
There are some scenes in which Fogg mutters off-color one-liners. Are these necessary for the movie? Do you think it's something put in to make the movie more enjoyable for adult audiences?
- In theaters: June 18, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 2004
- Cast: Jackie Chan, Jim Broadbent, Steve Coogan
- Director: Frank Coraci
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Book characters
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: violence, some crude humor and mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.