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Why ‘The Mummy’ is still an endlessly rewatchable summer movie

Despite being about a 636-year-old corpse, this 1999 summer hit has aged well.

By Vanessa Armstrong
(L-R) Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser in The Mummy (1999)

Stories centered around searching for ancient treasures are getting a small revival as of late. One has only to look at Marvel’s Moon Knight series, Disney’s Jungle Cruise or the Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum-led film The Lost City to get your fix of enjoyable, adventurous entertainment. 

All of these titles owe some of their inspiration, however, to 1999’s The Mummy. The movie starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz was a hit when it came out at the end of the 20th century and has continued to have a special place in many fans’ hearts.

Why has The Mummy withstood the test of time? Here are four reasons why this movie holds up after all these years and still brings joy whenever you rewatch it. 

A still from The Mummy (1999)

1. It doesn’t take itself too seriously

The Mummy is, for lack of a better phrase, a hoot. Yes, Rick and Evie (Fraser and Weisz’s characters) are avoiding deadly attacks from a resurrected malevolent mummy, but they manage to keep their sense of humor throughout. And while the film is a bit creepy and scary at times, most of it is fun. Everyone knew what kind of movie they were making, and that movie is one that has an ancient evil mummy terrified of a housecat. It also doesn’t get bogged down by the grimness surrounding it, though those elements certainly exist.  

2. The actors have chemistry for days

Fraser and Weisz are the heart of The Mummy and the two actors play their roles perfectly. For Fraser’s Rick O’Connell, the actor nails the character’s physicality and gets things on the sillier side at just the right moments without overdoing it. As for Weisz, her character — the brainy book-loving Evie Carnahan — has a level of earnestness that means you can’t help but root for her.

The two of them together also have incredible chemistry, something that Fraser credits Weisz for. “Rachel is just a heck of a lot of fun to work with and easily someone you can have a platonic movie-star crush on for all the right reasons,” he said in a 2019 interview with Entertainment WeeklyFraser isn’t slacking in the chemistry department either, and the two leads are also supported by a stellar supporting cast including Arnold Vosloo as Imhotep and John Hannah as Evie’s brother, Jonathan. 

The Mummy (1999)

3. The special effects (mostly) hold up

Who could think up the idea of a gooey mummy and then make it look sufficiently gross (but not too gross)? The makers of The Mummy, that’s who! While repeat viewers of the film might not think much of Imhotep’s slimy visage before he is brought back to “life,” the idea of a squicky mummy was a fun one, and one that gave extra creepiness to the film.

Imhotep's moistness isn’t the only special effect that still impresses — from the scritching sounds of the scarabs tearing off the flesh from living men to the undead army Imhotep ultimately raises, the visuals still look pretty good, even by today’s standards. Take the image above, which shows the desiccated corpse of one of the American treasurer hunters who succumbs to Imhotep's wrath. That's a pretty gross looking body even by today's special effects standards. 

4. It’s the perfect blend of adventure, silliness, and horror

It’s the combination of all these things, however, that makes The Mummy truly great. It maintains the perfect balance of an action-filled romp that has enough spooky (and gross) elements to sufficiently creep you out. The cast — particularly Fraser and Weisz — give us gold-level chemistry, and the special effects won’t make you cringe too much two decades later. 

Go give it a watch! And another watch, and another. It’s there whenever you need some extra joy in your life, and that is something we can all appreciate.