On the twenty-ninth day of Halloween, my first dream woman gave to me: The Mummy (Stephen Sommers, 1999)
Today’s Halloween G.O.A.T. is part of a Halloween tradition in my household. Every Halloween night for the past two decades, my parents have set up shop in either the living room or front porch of my house to pass out candy. And every year, my family sets up a little TV set and watches Halloween-themed movies in between trick-or-treaters. While the selection of films has rotated over the years, we’ve decided on two movies to watch this year : The Mummy and Young Frankenstein.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that The Mummy is a piece of cinematic art, because it’s not. It’s not a deeply emotional movie, and you won’t walk away feeling like your cinematic experience has been transformed or anything. In some respects, The Mummy just a fluffy action blockbuster with little-to-no substance, but a high production value. Nothing to write home about.
But despite the fact that this movie should be sort of forgettable, I almost cried when I saw that it got put on Netflix this spring. I was in the middle of my last semester of college and struggling with all of the “last semester ever” emotions, when BAM: like manna sent from heaven, I was gifted a throwback from my childhood. This movie is a perfect blend of my favorite things: spooky things, comedy, historic settings, silly action, and Rachel Weisz. I watched it three times that week, and reveled in its brief stint online. I now own it on DVD I also have it on VHS but our player broke, where it will no longer be subject to Netflix’s whims.
The plot, if you will:
Shy librarian and Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) enlist the aid of the roguish Rick O’Connell in an attempt to locate Hamunaptra, the fabled Egyptian city of the dead. Despite the odds, this unlikely crew manages to locate the mythical city: and its vengeful ancient inhabitant, Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). As the former High Priest arises to reclaim his lover, the group must figure out how to stop him, and send him back to the world of the dead.
First things first
While I wouldn’t classify The Mummy as a horror movie per say, I think it works well as a “Halloween” movie. It’s got enough scary stuff in it to keep it creepy, but is funny and “action-y” enough that it can appeal to a wide audience. To be fair, there is still some pretty nasty stuff shoehorned into this “family film”: living corpses, not-so-willing organ donors, and the ever popular bugs that crawl under your skin. It’s Spooky Lite ©, but sometimes that hits the spot.
I….I am a librarian!
The Mummy is more of an action-adventure movie than anything else, and a pretty standard one at that. The fight scenes in The Mummy are practically ripped out of an Indiana Jones movie, with secret doorways, bubbling pits of doom, and conveniently placed ropes to swing on. Nothing groundbreaking to see here.
And to be fair, I’m normally not super into action movies to begin with. That said, I am always down to watch action movies that don’t take themselves seriously. The Mummy is one of the above, and manages to combine moments of gravity with an incredibly goofy cast. The repartee between the characters is delightful, and Evelyn is a wonderfully stubborn-but-clumsy gal who’s intent on blazing her own path. While the romance between she and Rick is incredibly cut-and-paste predictable, it’s sweet nonetheless.
this movie showed me the glory of both Rachel Weisz and Oded Fehr, okay
This movie is like comfort food: it’s simple and probably not that great for you, but is satisfying every time. There’s one review of The Mummy that strangely nails how I feel about this movie:
“There is hardly a thing I can say in its favor, except that I was cheered by nearly every minute of it. I cannot argue for the script, the direction, the acting or even the mummy, but I can say that I was not bored and sometimes I was unreasonably pleased. “
He could always say it best.
“Unreasonably pleased,” is about the best description of my love for this movie. It’s predictable and trite and basically just a pile of fluff, but The Mummy hits all of the right notes for me in a way that defies reason. This movie is a weird little slice of magic for me, and maybe it’ll be the same for you.
At any rate, the next movie on the chopping block – Young Frankenstein– is a movie that needs little defending, and is a particularly poignant watch this Halloween season.
Two reviews left, friends!
Ebert’s review: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-mummy-1999
Featured Image Source: http://www.impawards.com/1999/mummy_ver2.html