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Relive Oscar winner Brendan Fraser's greatest moment: That 'Dudley Do-Right' motorcycle chase
Long before The Whale, Fraser mounted up for some Rocky and Bullwinkle-inspired slapstick.
Pause The Whale, put away the hankie, and forget that emotional Best Actor speech: There’ll be time aplenty to get weepy over Brendan Fraser’s big Oscars win once we’ve backtracked through the real tearjerkers in his long and storied acting catalog.
Yep, we’re talking about Fraser’s funny stuff, especially the good-sport gags he was regularly pulling all throughout the 1990s as the slapstick star of everything from Encino Man to Airheads to George of the Jungle. Today’s lesson in lapsed laughs from Fraser’s funniest period comes straight out of the live-action pratfalls of the world of Rocky and Bullwinkle, courtesy of the woefully under-appreciated R&B-inspired spinoff Dudley Do-Right — a gleefully silly comedy that, sadly, landed with a lumberjack-sized thud at the 1999 box office.
Fraser stars as the movie's super-conscientious Royal Canadian Mounted Police protector, which you can get a good feel for in this extended clip, where he swaps his stodgy RCMP horse for a très cool revvy dirt bike.
Check out Brendan Fraser in Dudley Do-Right below:
Yep, that’s Dudley slinging mud, sculpting yard art, and eventually getting the girl — all while finding time to perform an Evel Knievel-style motorcycle leap across an entire canyon. No Dudley Do-Right scene is really crying out for gobs of explanatory context, but it’s worth filling in some blanks here just to admire all the acting talent that actually went into making the film, directed by WKRP in Cincinnati creator Hugh Wilson and featuring a cast that could just have easily looked right for an Oscar-contending period drama.
The great Alfred Molina turned in a sniveling D.D. performance as the live-action version of Snidely Whiplash, eternal antagonist of the story-within-a-story "Dudley Do-Right" segments from the original The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends series on the 1960s small screen. When Fraser motors along sporting a new-look black leather jacket to crash Snidely’s garden party, it’s more than Molina’s clownishly classic villain can take: “You’re wearing black... that’s my color!” he whines.
Of course, the two are sparring over a girl, vying to win the heart of Nell Fenwick (lifted from the cartoons by Sarah Jessica Parker with Nell’s whole damsel-in-distress vibe fully intact). In a flick like this, it’s almost impossible not to impress a gal like Nell; she’s all but wooed to Snidely’s side by his literal paint-by-numbers portrait of her likeness. Until, that is, Dudley turns up to run circles around his nemesis by cutting her statuesque form into topiary art…with a chainsaw.
Where’d that chainsaw come from? Why, from Monty Python alum Eric Idle of course, showing up in the clip as gold prospector Kim J. Darling (“the poorest man in Semi-Happy Valley”) just long enough to gift Dudley the gnarly tree tool like it's a sentimental family treasure. “Use it in peace — not war,” Idle solemnly admonishes as he hands the two-stroke beast over to its new caretaker, and we’ve gotta confess: He definitely entrusted it to the right do-right dude.
If anything, Fraser’s comedic movie past just shows the versatility of his prodigious acting chops. Spanning his 1992 Encino Man role and that of The Whale’s Charlie, which earned him this year’s Best Actor Academy Award, there’s definitely a ton of range — whether it’s opposite Ian McKellen in 1998’s drama Gods and Monsters, opposite Rachel Weisz (and an ancient curse) in action flicks The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), or opposite a lowbrow cast of comic book heroes in DC’s Doom Patrol (now in its final season at HBO Max).
For another deep dive into Fraser’s acting past, check out his role as a future-sensing triggerman for the mob in 2007’s The Air I Breathe, featuring a killer cast including Kevin Bacon, Forest Whitaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Julie Delpy, Andy Garcia, and Emile Hirsch. The Air I Breathe is streaming now at Peacock.