It’s hard to believe that an actor who repeatedly co-starred with Pauly Shore and multiple CGI mummies could win an Academy Award for acting, but the odds on favorite to win the Best Actor Oscar this weekend is Brendan Fraser for his work in The Whale. While this is hardly Fraser’s only acclaimed dramatic performance, a lot of us grew up seeing the star in far goofier, occasionally loincloth-heavy, roles.
Before he potentially takes home the gold hairless naked statuette that denotes excellence in the film industry, we’ve decided to rank Fraser’s movie comedies — as in the comedies he stars in. Brief cameos, like the time he showed up as a surly test patient in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, don’t count. So let’s start at the bottom, with…
Fraser stars as a real-estate developer who incurs the wrath of nature in this dire 2010 family comedy. The end credits dance sequence alone should be classified as some sort of crime against humanity.
Fraser co-starred with Alex Wolff in this Rushmore rip-off about a child genius with a silly name who attends college at the age of 14.
Fraser is fine as the famous Mountie cartoon character, but the movie is a painfully unfunny drag. Also, Mounties are trash.
A bizarre romantic comedy starring Fraser and talk-show host Ricki Lake, in which Lake is mistaken for her wealthy deceased travel companion following a train crash. The rare lighthearted rom-com that kicks off with the tragic death of a pregnant woman.
A mostly serviceable remake of the classic Peter Cook and Dudley Moore comedy of the same name finds Fraser making a deal with the Devil, played by Elizabeth Hurley. Unfortunately, much of the original story was “updated” with more crotch shots and racist caricatures.
Weird baseball movie starring Fraser as a psychologically troubled pitcher who gets recruited by Yankees scout Albert Brooks. The most entertaining thing about this movie might be that it nearly starred Rodney Dangerfield as the scout, with Sam Kinison in the Fraser role.
Stop-motion animation legend Henry Selick’s lone live-action feature is an ambitious mess but remains a visually intriguing oddity that might be worth a second look. Fraser essentially plays two roles: a cosmically-imprisoned cartoonist and the human iteration of his horned-up monkey character.
‘George of the Jungle’
Fraser is the perfect human cartoon character in Disney’s adaptation of the classic Jay Ward animated series. His commitment to the character is what makes the whole thing work — for an example of how this could have gone horribly wrong, see George of the Jungle 2.
Encino Man may not be great, but it’s extremely watchable. Fraser’s breakout performance as Link, the unfrozen caveman acclimatizing to 1990s teen life, is undeniably funny, even in a shambolic story that hasn’t totally stood the test of time. Between Fraser and Ke Huy Quan, clearly, Encino Man was a breeding ground for Oscar greatness, buuuuddy.
Based on a not-totally-true story, Airheads stars the unlikely trio of Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler as rockers that take a radio station hostage to get their band, The Lone Rangers, some airplay. The movie is buoyed by an ace supporting cast that includes Chris Farley, Michael McKean and Ernie Hudson.
‘Looney Tunes: Back in Action’
This follow-up to Space Jam is arguably the superior movie, largely thanks to the sensibilities of director Joe Dante (who, admittedly, wasn’t happy with the finished film). Fraser is an appropriately cartoonish human addition to the Looney Tunes gang, as is Steve Martin as the villainous head of the ACME corporation.
‘Blast From the Past’
Playing to his fish-out-of-water strengths, Blast From the Past again found Fraser as an outsider forced to integrate into the modern world. But here he gets to be a normal dude who was simply living in a bomb shelter with his parents — not a recently-thawed neanderthal or a half-naked jungle man — allowing for a genuinely sweet romantic storyline with Alicia Silverstone. Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek are terrific as Fraser’s parents — acting-wise, not with the whole Fallout guide to parenting thing.
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