Monday, March 14, 2011

On Brendan Fraser...

I'm here to eulogize a friend...or at least the career of someone a lot of us once thought of as a friend.  It is necessitated by the news that Brendan Fraser's next film will be something entitled Whole Lotta Sole.  It's a fish heist story.  Yes, that kind of sole.

Honestly, this would have been better.

What an odyssey Brendan Fraser's career has been.  Encino Man introduced us to this endearing lunk of a man.  True, most film fans likely dismissed him based on that credit only, what with his most compelling line of dialogue being "Betty...nugs." 

Pauly Shore was the draw for this movie.  It was a different time...
Then he starting showing up in dramatic roles...and killing them.  From his turn as a secretly Jewish football star in WASP-dominated 1950's prep school in School Ties, and then as a driven Harvard political science major who learns practical knowledge from a homeless Joe Pesci in With Honors, it appeared that he could be the next great American leading man.  A sort of GenX Harrison Ford, or more appropriately maybe Michael Keaton, with his goofy comedic properties.  Tall, handsome, funny, and as proven by 1999's surprise hit The Mummy, a truly rough and ready action star as well.  Sure, there was George of the Jungle, and Blast From the Past, but he certainly wasn't the weak link in those productions, either in concept or execution.  And he did make Airheads, a cult favorite among my people (Midwestern air guitar players), so the 90's were, on the whole, a great decade for Fraser.

But the karmic wheel spins, and Fraser's slow downswing began almost immediately after The Mummy.  His very next movie was Dudley Do-Right.  Honestly, who remembers the cartoon Dudley Do-Right?  Anyone?  The answer is no, because it bombed at the box office ($70M budget, $9.6M gross), and the descent began.  Monkeybone, two disappointing Mummy sequels, the sometimes-great-but-mostly-not Bedazzled, all adding to the dismal tally.  A smallish role in the overwrought 2004 Best Picture Crash marks the last respectable film role for our hero.  I give you his last 5 films, in order of oldest to newest:

-Journey To The Center Of The Earth (In "comin' atcha" 3D!)
-The Mummy:  Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Hey, did you know there are Chinese mummies too?  Yeah, Rachel Weisz didn't care, either.)
-Inkheart (Anybody out there see this?  Again, the answer is no.)
-Extraordinary Measures (Really a Harrison Ford movie, and it bombed too)
-Furry Vengeance  (92 minutes of our boy being kicked in the nuts by CGI raccoons)

I didn't include his uncredited appearance in G.I. Joe, though I will mention it to save some of his dignity.

Buuuuuuut, then his delicately-waisted action figure steals it right away again.
 It's like he's become drawn to ridiculously bad ideas, put together by morons.  So the fish burglary movie shouldn't be a shock to anyone, but it is a sad nadir to a long-fading career that started with such promise. 

Rest in peace, Link.  We'll always have Encino.


  1. Not that I'm a Brendan Fraser fan, but Gods and Monsters was one of the best movies ever... Full of Hollywood offbeat energy and film noir...

  2. I loved Bedazzled!! "¿Donde este es la biblioteca?"

    Great... now I have every one of my favorite lines stuck in my head.

  3. Gods and Monsters falls inside that "golden period" of the mid-late 90's, so I'm not surprised that it's good (I've not seen it, unfortunately).