The Mummy suffers from all the flaws that afflict the modern blockbuster wannabe : it's bloated to a overlong 2 hours plus, it too often seems to be more about its effects than anything else, and calling its characterization cardboard is an insult to humble paper products everywhere. However, like Independence Day, I ended up liking The Mummy due to the fact that both films don't aspire to be anything more than what they are : jokey half-parody/half-homage of better films. (In The Mummy's case, the Indiana Jones films.) There's also the fact that I'm biased toward any film whose plot turns on our heros reading a book.
As the adventurer/mercenary O'Connor, Brendan Fraser has the right combination of physical presence and comic Brie that an intentional cheesefest like The Mummy demands. With a few exceptions, every other actor gives just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek support, especially John Hannah as the ne'er-do-well brother of Rachel Weisz's librarian Evelyn. The exceptions being Kevin O'Connor, whose character lies in the grossest of Arab stereotypes; Weisz, who's far too stiff an actress to give Evelyn the proper light touch; and Arnold Vosloo's overly-somber Imhotep.
Or ripoff, if you're feeling less generous.
Given the strong Army of Darkness vibe the film often exudes, I can't help but wonder how casting Bruce Campbell as the lead would have worked out; he's even more tailor-made for the role than Fraser.