Brendan Fraser is making a serious Hollywood comeback, and I’m here for it.
I grew up watching some of Fraser’s best movies, and I suspect everyone else did, too. It feels like the entire world is rooting for him to succeed. And why shouldn’t they? Not only is he a talented actor, but he seems like a genuinely good person. It’s pretty hard to find someone who doesn’t like the guy.
Recently, Fraser has been gaining a lot of attention for his roles in 2021’s No Sudden Move and 2022’s The Whale. The latter has not been released in the U.S. yet, but has already started winning awards, nabbing three at the Venice Film Festival. Fraser picked up a TIFF Tribute Award for his role and also earned the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s prestigious American Riviera Award.
But before all those accolades, he was the lovable wild man swinging from vines in George of the Jungle and the caveman on ice adjusting to the modern world in Encino Man. And while he may not have won any prestigious awards for these roles, they are some of his most loved and most memorable roles.
If you’re jonesing for more Brendan Fraser, let’s dive back into his film history! These are his 10 best films, ranked.
10. Blast From the Past
In 199’s Blast From the Past, Brendan Fraser plays Adam Webber, a 35-year-old man who has lived his entire life inside a bomb shelter. It was built by his eccentric scientist dad, who was convinced nuclear war was imminent, and they have been secretly living underground since.
When the shelter starts running on supplies, Adam heads into the world above ground to restock, finding that the nuclear apocalypse never happened. Adam stumbles upon Eve Rustikov, played by Alicia Silverstone, who helps him adjust to Los Angeles in the ‘90s. His parents are unconvinced that there was no nuclear war, though, and they start planning a new fallout shelter…
Blast From the Past isn’t an award-winning, thought-provoking film by any stretch of the imagination. But at the same time, it’s entertaining and funny; and Fraser nails the naive, charismatic character.
9. Journey to the Center of the Earth
This movie is an adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1864 novel of the same name. Brendan Fraser is scientist Trevor Anderson, who sets off with his nephew to find out what really happened to his missing brother. Trapped in a cavern, they end up going deeper and deeper below the Earth’s surface, discovering strange places and incredible creatures.
It’s a fast-paced family adventure that blends an old-school storyline with modern visuals that still hold up pretty decently today. Unfortunately, we can’t catch it in 3D theaters like when it first came out, which added to the fun.
In 2000’s Bedazzled, Elizabeth Hurley is the Devil – a drop-dead gorgeous devil with a wicked sense of humor. Brendan Fraser portrays Elliot, a guy desperate enough to make a deal with her. He’s working a dead-end job at a computer company, and it seems like he just can’t get a leg up in life. He doesn’t have friends, and he lacks the courage to ask out the coworker he’s crushing on. But even though the Devil promises to fulfill his wishes, it doesn’t seem like he’s getting what he wanted. There’s always a catch.
Fraser’s geeky loner character is relatable, although the film is a little predictable and feels a little cliche. All in all, though, it’s an enjoyable movie with a heartwarming lesson in the end.
7. George of the Jungle
Brendan Fraser is the titular character in Disney’s George of the Jungle, the man who was raised by animals in the African jungle. He has his first contact with other humans when he saves heiress and explorer Ursula Stanhope (Leslie Mann) from a lion. She ends up taking him back to San Francisco, where he sees the human world for the first time. But when George finds out that the gorilla that raised him is in trouble, they return to rescue him.
This movie is a fun and entertaining romp. While critics gave it mixed reviews, audiences loved it and that’s what matters most. It showcases Fraser’s comedic chops, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty easy on the eyes. For many people, this is one of Fraser’s biggest and most-memorable films.
6. School Ties
In 1992’s School Ties, Brendan Fraser plays David Greene, a Jewish high school student in 1959 who earns an athletic scholarship to an elite prep school for his senior year. His new friends are all from well-to-do families, but he also discovers they are anti-Semitic – so he decides to hide his ethnicity. But when it is discovered anyway, his “friends” and the rest of the school turn against him.
Along with Fraser, the film also stars the likes of Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell, and Ben Affleck. This was actually one of Fraser’s earliest dramatic roles, and really shows off his versatility. The film as a whole is thought-provoking, and the message comes through loud and clear.
5. The Quiet American
Based on Graham Greene’s bestselling novel of the same name, The Quiet American is set in Vietnam in the early ‘50s toward the end of the First Indochina War. Fraser portrays Alden Pyle, a young American who finds himself in a love triangle with a local woman and an English journalist. On one level, it’s a love story, but on another level, this film is also about the conflict in Vietnam and the growing American involvement that led to full-scale war.
While many of Fraser’s best roles are comedic, The Quiet American proves that he can also deliver a solid dramatic performance.
An unsigned metal band is having a hard time breaking into the music biz, so they take matters into their own hands by breaking into a local radio station. They’ll just play their demo themselves. Of course, it doesn’t go as planned. After their recording gets destroyed, they accidentally find themselves holding everyone hostage with plastic guns.
Critics have never been nice about Airheads, but I don’t care what they say because I thoroughly enjoy it. This movie was actually one of the first films I saw Fraser in, and I think it’s one of his funniest, goofiest roles. Everyone else in the cast is hilarious, too. I mean, Michael Richards (aka Kramer!) is climbing through the air ducts. Fraser’s bandmates are played by Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler. Ernie Hudson and Chris Farley are the cops outside, David Arquette (with quite the bleach job) is a station hostage, and Rob Zombie and Kurt Loder make appearances.
3. Encino Man
Two goofy California teens (Sean Astin and Pauly Shore) discover a caveman frozen in a block of ice. Hey, it can happen, right? When the caveman thaws, they clean him up and attempt to pass him off as a foreign exchange student. Hijinks and hilarity ensue.
We can’t talk about Brendan Fraser’s best movies without talking about Encino Man. This goofy movie easily makes the top three! As you can probably guess, it received less-than-great reviews from critics, but it was a box-office success anyway. The silly comedy has gone on to amass a cult following and is one of Fraser’s most iconic roles.
2. Gods and Monsters
Gods and Monsters gives a glimpse into the last days of legendary director James Whale, who directed Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Set during the ‘50s, Whale (Sir Ian McKellen) has suffered a series of strokes that leave him disoriented and flood his mind with images of the past: his working-class upbringing, the trenches of World War I, and the filming of Bride of Frankenstein. He befriends his young gardener, Clayton Boone (Fraser), and they begin a complicated and sometimes uneasy friendship.
Unlike some of the other films on this list, Gods and Monsters managed to impress both audiences and critics.
“Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don’t lag far behind,” reads the Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes – where the film holds a 96% on the Tomatometer.
1. The Mummy
1999’s The Mummy takes the #1 spot on my list. This is the film that cemented Brendan Fraser as the Hollywood star we know he is. Not only is he showing off his acting chops, but he also has outstanding chemistry with co-star Rachel Weisz. The film itself is a classic action adventure with lovable characters, fantastic (for the time!) special effects, and monsters. A box office success, The Mummy went on to spawn sequels and spinoffs.
The movie is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name, but this one is more adventurous and less dark horror. Fraser portrays Rick O’Connell, traveling with a librarian and her older brother, after accidentally awakens Imhotep, a cursed high priest with supernatural powers. They must figure out a way to stop the awakened mummy and his mummified priests.