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People never learn, do they? Sixty-seven years since the Boris Karloff horror classic, The Mummy, hit the big screen, and people still try to mess with the Egyptian undead. Just something to think about as you munch on your popcorn and settle in for 1999's The Mummy.  

Written and directed by Stephen Sommers, The Mummy doesn't pretend to be something it isn't. It's plain, cheesy, old-fashioned fun -- the kind of stuff they created Saturday matinees for. 

Set in the 1920s The Mummy revolves around American adventurer Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser), British librarian Evelyn (Rachel Weisz), her brother Jonathan (John Hannah) and their search for the legendary lost city of Hamunaptra. During their search for hidden treasure, they stumble upon and inadvertently awaken the undead spirit of the high priest Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). Pharoah Seti I ordered Imhotep, who bears a strong resemblance to Yul Brynner, buried in a casket filled with carnivorous beetles for doing the nasty with the Pharaoh's mistress some 3,000 years ago. The "revived" Imhotep takes a fancy to Evelyn, who somewhat resembles his lost love. 

Brendan Fraser once again demonstrates his gift for portraying the ridiculous with flash and panache. He doesn't for one moment think he's playing Othello. He basically tells the audience, "This is brainless fun; join me for a good time."  

The Mummy won't win any awards for special effects, and its "undead" won't keep you up at night. Those flesh-eating beetles lack any pretense of reality -- they look like FAO Schwartz bugs run amok. But they're all part of this movie's charm. It's pure Velveeta. 

Joan Fuchsman

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