Every teacher knows that the last day of school before Christmas vacation means no work and all play. So I decided to show my third-graders (they're eight years old) Around the World in 80 Days. It was after watching their reaction to the movie that I decided that this film has gotten a bad rap. My students LOVED every minute of it; they were laughing and smiling throughout the entire movie. So why did Around the World in 80 Days perform so poorly at the box office in the United States this past summer? I'm not certain, but I have a few ideas.
After reading over some of the negative reviews, it is clear to me that expectations for this film were not realistic. Most of the poor reviews compare this movie to the original, which was made in 1956. NINETEEN FIFTY-SIX! That was nearly forty years ago! This version of Around the World in 80 Days should be judged on its own merits and not compared to the original. Releasing this movie on a WEDNESDAY before kids' summer vacations began and then condemning it for its poor opening was a sad turn of events as well.
From the moment that Jackie comes hurtling out of the Bank of England at the beginning to the final moments on the steps of the Royal Academy of Science, Around the World in 80 Days is just a really fun movie. It's full of comedy and cameos, history and hysterics. Some reviewers have commented on the acting as being "unconvincing." It seems to me that the acting in this film was purposely "over the top" since ATW80D is supposed to be a goofy romp through geography and history.
After showing the movie to my students, I watched it again at home - twice. My 15 year-old son and I laughed out loud throughout much of the film and always there was the question in my mind, "Why didn't this movie do better at the box office?" I just shook my head and continued watching and enjoying.
Later, I got it in my mind to write a little something for the website to remind the kids what a great movie this is. This is a FAMILY FILM and that's okay. Hey, Roger Ebert liked it. But then, he didn't expect it to be more than a lighthearted and enjoyable family film. Click here to see what Mr. Ebert had to say about the film. And by all means, WATCH THIS MOVIE! It's great entertainment.
©2004 Katharine Schroeder /Jackie Chan Kids Corner
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