In the summer of 2004, Walt Disney Pictures bet an estimated 140 million dollars (including marketing costs) that audiences were ready for another adaptation of Jules Verne's 1873 novel Around the World in Eighty Days, 48 years after the celebrated 1956 Michael Todd production, with aging kung fu comedian Jackie Chan essaying the role that made Cantinflas a star. It proved a losing wager. Typical of the approach to the remake was the hiring of film composer Trevor Jones. The 55-year-old Jones is a veteran journeyman in the movie scoring business, with 25 years of steady work behind him, and he has cultivated that most hirable of attributes among those of his profession, versatility (the other important talent being an ability to work fast, of course). A look back at his busy career (which has resulted in at least two dozen previous soundtrack albums) includes adventure films, fantasies, dramas, romantic comedies -- you name it. Jones, a South African by birth, has also shown a willingness to share the soundstage with a variety of '80s rock stars, among them Bono and Sting. And he has worked for Disney before (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth). So, he presumably has no trouble with a soundtrack album that begins with a newly written and rather sappy song by ex-Eurythmic David A. Stewart, "Everybody All Over the World (Join the Celebration)," and even includes an inexcusable revival of the insufferable Disney copyright "It's a Small World," performed by Baha Men. When Jones and the London Symphony Orchestra finally get the album to themselves, the composer's versatility comes into play, as he follows the protagonists around the globe, offering bits of familiar local music to mix in with the standard movie-music fare. His overture is straight out of the John Williams songbook, and his invention does not improve from there. This is serviceable music in a serviceable movie, but it will do nothing to improve the standing of a composer who, in a quarter century of uninterrupted music writing for the screen, has never once earned an Academy Award nomination. (To be fair, he has been nominated for a couple of Golden Globes.) Of course, Victor Young's score for the 1956 film was an Oscar winner.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: David A. Stewart
feat: Tina Sugandh
feat: Baha Men