Saturday, January 24, 2009

A genre unto himself

The movie Inkheart hit theaters yesterday.

Even if his mongoloid eyes and alien good looks weren't front and center on the poster, I could still tell you who the star of Inkheart was:

Brendan Fraser.

That, my friends, is because Brendan Fraser has become his own genre.

Brendan Fraser is far more likely to star in a Brendan Fraser Movie than anyone else, and he stars in several Brendan Fraser Movies a year. Last year alone he starred in two of them: Journey to the Center of the Earth (in 3D!) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

I think most of you are with me. But if you aren't, well, what makes a Brendan Fraser movie a Brendan Fraser Movie?

The way I'm defining it here, a Brendan Fraser Movie is a second-tier blockbuster set in the fantasy/adventure realm, one that always makes its money but doesn't usually over-perform, one that has a few PG-13 moments but is usually pretty good with a regular old PG rating. You know, a Brendan Fraser Movie. It's not total vanilla, but no one's ever going to feel threatened by it either. This modern incarnation of the Brendan Fraser Movie is an offshoot of the old style of Brendan Fraser Movie: the big-screen version of a classic cartoon.

How many Brendan Fraser Movies has Brendan Fraser made? A lot. ("How many dicks is that?")

Forthwith, the top 10 Brendan Fraser Movies, in terms of their Brendan Fraser-ishness:

10. Bedazzled (2000). The least Brendan Fraser-ish of Brendan Fraser's Brendan Fraser Period. He plays a regular guy who sells his soul to the devil and keeps getting transformed into different versions of himself as the devil messes with his mind. High concept scenario involving cartoonish hijinx? Check.

9. Dudley Do-Right (1999). Plays the Canadian mountie from the famous cartoon series. The fantasy elements appear to be underplayed, at least as far as a person who's never seen the movie can tell.

8. Monkeybone (2001). Another movie I have not seen. But if the animated monkey and the brightly colored crazy world it lives in are any indication, this is pretty Beetlejuice-y, and therefore, pretty Fraser.

7. The Mummy (1999). This may seem like the most Brendan Frasery of all Brendan Fraser Movies. But it's a trick. The sequels are far more Brendan Frasery, because the Brendan Fraser Movie was a far more well-established phenomenon by then, and the act of appearing in a sequel itself is a good indication of Brendan Fraser-ishness, even if this phenomenon has not been demonstrated repeatedly.

6. George of the Jungle (1997). Exceptionally more Brendan Frasery than some of the other Brendan Fraser Movie on this list, because it's the only movie on the list to really acknowledge Fraser's simian characteristics and use them as an active plot point. (Note: See Honorable Mentions section for the other prominent example).

5. Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). Fraser has been cartoon characters and has acted alongside cartoon characters. This film seemed to bring all his prior interests together in one place. Another astute observation from the man who has not seen this film.

4. Inkheart (2009). I have not seen this film. But it looks very Brendan Frasery.

3. The Mummy Returns (2001). In this terrible sequel, Fraser gets to do what Mel Gibson does in the Lethal Weapon movies and what Bruce Willis does in the Die Hard movies -- deliver several dozen lines that can basically be summarized as "I been through this shit before." Very Brendan Fraser.

2. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008). A remake of Jules Verne's famous middle-earth fantasy, featuring plenty of monsters, Fraser acting like another archeologist/geologist type, and 3-D! "Get me Brendan Fraser!"

1. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). That title alone is enough to take the prize of Ultimate Brendan Fraser Movie.

Honorable Mentions: Encino Man, Blast from the Past

And now, the top 10 Brendan Fraser Movies that do not feature Brendan Fraser:

10. Congo
9. Jurassic Park III
8. King Solomon's Mines
7. National Treasure
6. National Treasure: Book of Secrets
5. Jumanji
4. Night at the Museum
3. The Librarian: Quest for the Spear
2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Honorable Mentions: Mighty Joe Young, Stardust, Sahara, Around the World in 80 Days

What's your favorite Brendan Fraser Movie not starring Brendan Fraser? That's why I have a comments section.


DGB said...

The National Treasure movies would have been a lot better if Bren Fras (I'm too lazy to type his whole name) had been in them instead of Forehead Cage.

The thing I like about the Fras (trying another nickname...good? No?) is that he actually looks like he's in on the joke and having fun, good movie or not.

Anonymous said...

I love this concept. How about top 10 non-Brendan Fraser movies featuring Brendan Fraser? At the top of my list would be Gods and Monsters. He wasn't quite on par with Sir What's His Name, but pretty damn good!

Derek Armstrong said...

Gods and Monsters for sure. I'd also put School Ties up there. But that was before Brendan Fraser knew who Brendan Fraser was yet.