The life and career of Oscar-winning performer Brendan Fraser is one of the most inspiring comeback stories in Hollywood. The 54-year-old actor was born in Indiana, Indianapolis, on December 3, 1968. He is the youngest of his parents’ four sons. Fraser’s father was a Canadian Foreign Service officer, and his mom was a sales counselor. While there’s no real insight into how wealthy his family was, Fraser attended an elite boarding school in Toronto. Later, he studied acting at the Cornish School of the Arts in Seattle. In early 1991, he went to Hollywood.
A year later, the actor landed his first major role in Encino Man. The same year, he played a student at a boarding school in School Ties. While Encino Man was critically panned, it made Fraser somewhat popular and facilitated him to play a lead role in Airheads (1994) alongside Adam Sandler. However, it was the 1997 adventure comedy George of the Junglethat turned Brendan Fraser into a bonafide movie star. He followed it up with a few more commercial hits, including The Mummy (1999). But 2003 on, Fraser’s career headed southwards.
The actor’s turbulent family life and a string of box-office flops were cited as the main reasons for his absence from the spotlight. In 2018, in an interview with GQ, Brendan Fraser claimed that a former president and member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) inappropriately touched him during a 2003 HFPA luncheon in Los Angeles. The HFPA inquiry has also confirmed this.
Fraser has stated that, aside from personal problems, the traumatic incident was the reason he left Hollywood. At the same time, Fraser’s numerous surgeries following injuries sustained while conducting his own stunts forced him to only appear in a string of low-profile roles in films and TV series.
Nonetheless, Brendan Fraser was poised for a comeback after appearing in Steven Soderbergh’s highly acclaimed thriller No Sudden Move (2021). Fortunately, the talented actor landed a wonderful role in Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. The actor’s life story, as well as his pleasant down-to-earth demeanor, have made him a viral internet phenomenon.
Quickly then, here’s a look at some of the worthy and best Brendan Fraser movies:
Best Brendan Fraser Movies
12. Encino Man (1992)
Les Mayfield’s Encino Man borrowed elements from male teen fantasy films like Weird Science (1985) and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). While Mayfield’s film was dumber and less entertaining than those two, it was salvaged in part by Brendan Fraser’s wild breakout performance.
The silly storyline follows two high school weirdos, Dave (Sean Astin) and Stoney Brown (Pauly Shore), who find a caveman frozen in a cube of ice. After thawing, the caveman is given the moniker Link. The two outcasts declare that Linkis their best shot at becoming popular in high school.
Despite being tens of thousands of years old, Link progressively adapts to 20th-century adolescent life. Most of Encino Man‘s emotional elements fall flat. Fraser’s fish-out-of-water theatrics, on the other hand, are entertaining.
Where to watch: Apple TV+
11. Airheads (1994)
Michael Lehmann’s Airheads isn’t as brilliant as his teen black comedy masterpiece Heathers (1988). Nonetheless, it’s a fun spoof of the music business and bands, with hilarious performances by Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler. The story follows three goofy rock ‘n’ roll guys from the band called The Lone Raiders. When they get rude responses from the recording company and radio station, the three arm themselves with water pistols and hot sauce and hold the radio station staff hostage.
These airheads do ridiculous things and ultimately find a crowd to cheer them on. Brenda Fraser, with his long hair, is fantastic as Chazz. The majority of the film’s funny moments were designed around the actors’ personalities, which makes the comic complications fascinating. Despite this, Airheads was a commercial failure.
Where to watch: HBO Max
10. George of the Jungle (1997)
Sam Weissman’s George of the Jungle is based on Jay Ward and Bill Scott’s 1967 animated adventure TV series of the same name. Ward and Scott designed the series as a parody of Tarzan stories. While Weissman retained some of the parodic elements, the ape-man was played by the charming Brendan Fraser with perfect abs. The titular George was a lone survivor of a plane crash in the African jungles, and he was raised by a sapient, talking gorilla.
Ursula (Leslie Mann), a young San Francisco heiress, crosses paths with George, resulting in a syrupy yet entertaining courtship. Fraser’s talent for slapstick humor catapulted him to stardom in Hollywood. Nonetheless, Fraser recently admitted that preparing for the part, including the strict diet regimen, transformed it into a painful working experience.
Where to watch: Disney+ Hotstar
9. The Mummy Returns (2001)
Stephen Sommer’s film is more or less a repeat of the original The Mummy (1999). However, the sequel had a lot of exciting action sequences. Like its predecessor, it was a tremendous box office success. Brendan Fraser’s Rick journeys across mystical Egypt to confront old foes, including High Priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), and save his kidnapped son. Dwayne Johnson appeared briefly as The Scorpion King.
Brendan Fraser plays Rick O’Connell with charm and wit. He is particularly mesmerizing in the swashbuckling action sequences. However, The Mummy Returns appeared to be a CGI overkill. Brendan Fraser gradually went off the grid after this film.
Apart from a few exceptions like Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008), Fraser didn’t return to a lead character until Aronofsky offered him one.
Where to watch: Netflix
8. Bedazzled (2000)
In Harold Ramis’ Bedazzled, Brendan Fraser plays Elliot Richards, a computer geek who is desperate to get together with his office colleague, Alison. Elizabeth Hurley plays a seductive Satan, who grants Fraser’s Elliot seven wishes, which he uses to win the girl of his dreams. Satan demands his immortal soul in return. Elliot, however, becomes disillusioned when each of the grand desires fails to live up to the hype.
Bedazzled is based on the 1967 feature of the same name. Brendan Fraser seems to have had lots of fun playing the caricaturish dweeb. Elliot’s desires to be a different man are played out like a comedy sketch. And Fraser plays a wide variety of stereotypical characters, from NBA basketball players to a Colombian drug lord. The over-the-top performances of Fraser feel perfectly at home in this narrative.
Where to watch: Apple TV+
7. No Sudden Move (2021)
Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move, alongside the voice-acting in DC’s Doom Patrol series, marked the long-anticipated comeback of Brendan Fraser. It was a period heist thriller with shades of film noir. Apart from Fraser, the film had a brilliant ensemble cast, including Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, and Ray Liotta.
Brendan Fraser plays the mysterious Mr. Jones, a middleman of sorts for the unidentified crime boss. He hires three different crooks to hold a middle-class family hostage. As expected, the complex plan misfires in a lot of ways.
Brendan Fraser gives an excellent, understated portrayal as the intimidating Doug Jones. His character is frequently seen in a gloomy, secluded setting, implying Mr. Jones’ enigmatic nature. Despite the fact that Fraser does not appear in many scenes, the intensity of his portrayal can be felt throughout the story.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
6. School Ties (1992)
Before they were renowned, stars like Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck appeared in Robert Mandel’s intense drama about anti-Semitism. While Fraser’s zany performance in Encino Man the same year proved to be his breakout part, School Ties showcased his fine emotional range. The plot centers around David Greene, who attends an elite boarding prep school in the 1950s. (Fraser). David is a working-class Jewish teen who plays high school football.
Though David’s arrival energizes the school’s football squad, the rich kids make his life hell once his Jewish identity is revealed. Aside from David’s tale, there’s a subplot involving Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon), who is under parental pressure to live up to the standards of his wealthy family. Though School Ties is a little didactic, it showcases Fraser’s amazing ability to portray a solemn and subdued character.
Where to watch: Prime Video, Apple TV+
5. Gods and Monsters (1998)
Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters is based on Christopher Bram’s novel, which dramatizes the final days of retired filmmaker James Whale. Known for directing the Hollywood horror classic Frankenstein (1931), James Whale was an openly gay filmmaker at a time when homosexuality was illegal in many parts of the world.
Gods and Monsters show Mr. Whale (Ian McKellen) recuperating from a series of minor strokes in his mansion in the mid-1950s. The old man seeks solace in his friendship with his hot gardener, Clayton Boone (Brendan Fraser).
Mr. Fraser was possibly cast in the part because of his chiseled physique. However, both the scriptwriter and Fraser bring something deeper to the characterization of ex-marine Clayton Boone. Despite sharing scenes with veteran performers such as Ian McKellen and Vanessa Redgrave, he manages to steal the show.
Where to watch: YouTube
4. Blast from the Past (1999)
Brendan Fraser’s inherently likable personality has often made him play innocent characters with a lot of humor. Similar to Encino Man, Fraser’s character in Blast from the Past becomes acquainted with individuals and society that are unfamiliar to him. The goofiness is toned down in Blast from the Past (directed by Hugh Wilson) as Fraser explores a wide variety of emotions other from comedy.
Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek play Brendan Fraser’s (Adam) parents. Little Adam and his family seek refuge in their well-equipped bomb shelter during the height of Cold War panic, afraid that a nuclear bomb has been dropped.Thirty years later, curious Adam emerges to the surface and befriends a young woman named Eve (Alicia Silverstone). Fraser masterfully balances Adam’s unwavering optimism and inner fears. His charming performance effortlessly elevates the silly storyline.
Where to watch: Apple TV+
3. The Quiet American (2002)
Brendan Fraser impeccably underplays in Philip Noyce’s The Quiet American. The Quiet American is based on a novel by Graham Greene, which depicts the early involvement of America in Vietnam through an intriguing love triangle. The film’s protagonist Thomas Fowler (Michael Caine), is a middle-aged, cynical British reporter. He is in a relationship with a young local woman, Phoung. Soon, an American aid worker named Alden Pyle (actually a CIA operative) arrives in Vietnam and falls for Phoung.
The personal and political conflicts between Fowler and Pyle were clearly the story’s highlights. The two establish a friendship, but Fowler is wary of Pyle’s quiet intimidation. Fraser gives his character, who appears warm-hearted and friendly on the surface, a lot of complexity. Fraser’s Pyle is a near-perfect depiction of American influence prior to the Vietnam War.
2. The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy, directed by Stephen Sommes, is a silly yet hugely entertaining summer blockbuster. Brendan Fraser played the iconic intrepid adventurer Rick O’Connell, who, along with egyptologist Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), fights the threat of a resurrected evil mummy at the ancient city of Hamunaptra. The film was a perfect mix of adventure, action, horror, and comedy, which were all flawlessly spearheaded by Brendan Fraser. Though the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, Fraser put his heart and soul into the stunt work.
The swashbuckling nature of Rick required Fraser to take enormous risks. In fact, the whole experience took a toll on Fraser’s health as he underwent numerous surgical procedures. Fraser shared good chemistry with his on-screen lover, played by Rachel Weisz. Rick, like most of Fraser’s characters, is a relentless optimist.
Where to watch: Netflix
1. The Whale (2022)
Darren Aronofsky’s distressing chamber piece about a morbidly obese middle-aged man has its share of critics. But everyone will agree that the film features one of the most heartfelt performances by an actor in recent memory. This story about a 600-pound housebound English tutor trying to reconnect with his adolescent daughter is powerful enough to melt your heart. Brendan Fraser had to wear prosthetics and make-up weighing more than 300 pounds to portray Charlie.
But beyond the authentic physicality, Fraser’s ability to present Charlie as a complex, intriguing individual is the highlight of The Whale. The actor shifts between great ranges of emotions within a single sequence. It’s hard to hold back tears when Fraser’s Charlie earnestly seeks reassurance from his ex-wife (played by the great Samantha Morton), “I need to know I did one right thing in my life.”
Where to watch: SonyLiv, Apple TV+
There you have it! These are the best Brendan Fraser movies. The actor has a devoted fan based despite his many ups and downs in life. Admirers, as well as everyone who is inspired by Fraser’s comeback and Oscar glory, hope that the actor stays in the limelight. The ‘Brenaissance,’ as they say, has arrived. Mr. Fraser appears in Martin Scorsese’s highly awaited film, Killers of the Flower Moon. (2023). In addition, the actor will also be seen in Max Barbakov’s comedy picture Brothers. Aside from Fraser, it has a stellar ensemble that includes Peter Dinklage, Josh Brolin, and Glenn Close.
What is your favourite Brendan Fraser movie? Let’s talk in the comments below.
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’