BY IRENE KARRAS
With Blu-Ray releases of not one, but two Brendan Fraser films (Airheads and Bedazzled), it’s time to rediscover the affable veteran of many a PG film and remember that he has also starred in some edgier, adult fare as well. Here are five that won’t make you want to go all Encino Man on the fam…
A poor man’s Dead Poets Society, Fraser plays working class Jewish student David Greene, who is admitted to an elite prep school on scholarship in 1950s Massachusetts. Matt Damon chews it up as the sneering brat who makes his life miserable (look for Ben Affleck and Chris O’Donnell too!). It’s a little darker than Dead Poets, which is why I include it here. The other boys are bigots, with a hate-on for Jews. Much tension and drama result as David (Fraser) is torn between wanting to fit in and being true to himself. It features one of the best last-scene snarky parting shots ever.
Still on the school theme, this film features Fraser as honors grad student Monty Kessler, whose sole thesis copy ends up with a homeless Simon Wilder, played by Joe Pesci. Hijinks and life-lessons ensue as Simon teaches the uptight Monty and his roommates, played by Josh Hamilton and Patrick Dempsey, the real meaning of life. Tissues optional but recommended.
GODS AND MONSTERS
A fictionalized account of Frankenstein director James Whale’s last months in the 1950s, Fraser plays the straight gardener, Clayton Boone, who develops an uneasy friendship with the gay auteur, played by Ian McKellan. McKellan’s portrayal of the depressed and tortured Whale is exquisite, but Fraser more than holds his own, giving a complex, restrained performance.
Most notable for its controversial 2005 Oscar win, beating out favourite Brokeback Mountain, this large-ensemble film features Fraser as district attorney Rick Cabot. The film means to be a comment on race in America and is worth seeing only because it’s universally voted the worst Best Picture Oscar winner ever.
THE PASSION OF DARKLY NOON
Though the film itself isn’t all that great, I dare you to try to pull yourself away from Fraser, Viggo Mortenson and Ashley Judd’s strange, dark love triangle. This is Fraser’s most twisted and violent film, and even if you don’t buy the story and set-up, it’s worth watching to see a range of anger from him that hasn’t much been explored much elsewhere.
Irene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at misplacedmysassy.wordpress.com and tweets @irene_karras.