Brendan Fraser recently gave a fair minded and even handed review of the reboot of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Fucking Grace from Peaky Blinders. In his review, he astutely pointed out the issue I think most of us knew instinctively when we first saw the trailer: there is simply not enough Brendan Fraser in this newest Mummy iteration. (Author’s note- I am decidedly less skilled at establishing the veracity of celebrity gossip than I am with real news, mostly because I don’t know what constitutes a reliable source for actors’ quips and they rarely turn up on NPR’s fact checker. If this story is not true, please leave me to my happy delusion.)
I wholeheartedly agree with Brendan Fraser’s key points, and I decided to show my undying support of this fine gentleman by purchasing a DVD box set of the Holy Trinity of the Mummy Franchise starring Brendan Fraser, The Brendan Fraser of my Heart. This was especially exciting to me, because I did not, until that fateful Amazon search, realize that this was in fact a trilogy. I had been happily watching The Mummy and The Mummy Returns for years, never knowing that the gloriously ridiculous, sadly-bereft-of-Rachel-Weisz-but-still-utterly-charming The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was at my fingertips. When my bounty finally arrived I watched all three movies in one day, and was reminded of several things.
First, the brilliant thing about each of these movies is that everyone is totally slumming it, but also acting their hearts out. Arnold Vosloo is soulful and evil and sensual in that way that 90s villains were legally required to be. That scene were (SPOILER ALERT) Ihmotep watches Evy pull Rick to safety and pleads with Anck-Su-Namun to show their love to be equal, nay, superior to that of these insolent peasants’ and she screams “NAI” and RUNS AWAY AND LEAVES HER ETERNAL LOVE TO DIE and his eyes tear up and he recognizes the beauty of true love you don’t have to murder or dominate/end the world for but just show up for each other and be tender and vulnerable and then he gives Rick that “we understand each other, you and I. Go live your life with this good woman who loves you, and let my folly be a lesson for the ages” look and casts himself into the fiery arms of hell? Brings a goddamn tear to my eye every fucking time. And in Dragon Emperor, not only Jet Li but MICHELLE YEOH were both giving Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-worthy performances, for a movie that had to resort to CVS brand Rachel Weisz and was very technically not even about mummies but Terra Cotta Warriors. Respect. Seriously, go back and see if you can find one actor, in any role, who doesn’t seem to be giving it their all.
Second, there simply aren’t enough mummy movies. I don’t really have more to say about that. I don’t have like, evidence or anything. Just a deeply held belief. Zombies, ghosts, werewolves, demons, and vampires have all had their day in the sun, but mummies are left shrouded in mystery. I’ll see myself out.
Third, and most importantly, Brendan Fraser is a perfect human being. This isn’t really something I ever forget, but is something I like to be reminded of anyway. He is golden and earnest and such a deeply gentle man that they had to put him next to John Hannah to make him look remotely intimidating. He is roguish without playing into toxic masculinity, he is charmed by women riding camels with ease, and he is a dedicated and supportive father. He’s just very soothing to watch on screen is my point, and yes I know he’s not young and lithe anymore but Tom Cruise is also old now and besides that he’s much weirder. He’s got nothing on the sheer goodness of Brendan Fraser.
Heartbreakingly, I also discovered that there were plans for a fourth movie which John Hannah’s character insinuated would be set in Peru. I know you all realize what this means. We were cruelly denied Inca Mummy Girl with Brendan Fraser! Maybe he could have met Buffy! Or Giles! In my perfect world this would have led to a decades-long series of movies in which Brendan Fraser travels the world, battling mummies from dozens of different cultures. We could be watching the Mummy 2017: Brendan Fraser Fights Celtic Bog Mummies, but noooo, Tom Cruise and Fucking Grace from Peaky Blinders needed to make a PG-13 horror movie. (Side note from my life: When I asked my partner to read an early draft of this piece, the phrase “celtic bog mummies” reminded him of something he read about making bog butter, and we had a lively conversation that consisted entirely of him trying to explain bog butter and me refusing to engage and insisting that “butter” is code for “mummy”. The he calmed me down by showing me pictures of a baby flamingo while I made some very undignified noises.)
Another reason to revisit the original Mummy trilogy is to have a perfectly good excuse to re-watch the Scorpion King, an excellent piece of cinema starring Future President of the United States Dwayne The Rock Johnson and some other people having a goofy, fun, action adventure-y time. I have always refused to watch the Scorpion King sequels because they do not star Future President of the United States Dwayne The Rock Johnson, a position I may have to reconsider because during my STRENUOUS RESEARCH on this subject I discovered that Billy Zane is the villain in one of them. Which seems redundant given that it is Billy Zane; I suppose I should just say Billy Zane is in one of them. Point being, the first Scorpion King movie is a national treasure, and although I understand that Brendan Fraser is in no way personally responsible for the creation of that film, I’m still grateful to him for it.
I don’t really have a final point to make, I’m just so happy about Brendan Fraser and good bad movies and B or even C list actors who give things their all. Maybe the point is that instead of getting upset about remakes and reboots, which seem to be a fixture of modern movies that isn’t going anywhere, let’s take these bizarre and largely terrible new takes on our very silly favorites as an opportunity to remember why they were our favorites in the first place. Let’s remember a simpler time, when Brendan Fraser was The Brendan Fraser of our Hearts and Future President of the United States Dwayne The Rock Johnson was just plain old Dwayne The Rock Johnson and everything was gentle and sweet and deeply earnest. Or maybe my point is, does anyone want to come over and watch all four Scorpion Kings movies with me? They should be arriving on my doorstep any day now…