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Blast from the Past

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Blast from the Past

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone
Director: Hugh Wilson
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: February 1999
Genres: Comedy, Romance

Review by Greg King
2½ stars out of 4

A 35 year old man, raised in a bomb shelter, emerges into the real world, and experiences life on the outside for the first time. Rather than the uncomfortable black humour of Bad Boy Bubby though, Blast From The Past is a genial enough comedy about the clash of cultures. Essentially a one-joke film, Blast From The Past gets a little nostalgic as it contrasts the innocence of the '60's with the more cynical, selfish, and mercenary life style of the '90's.

During the height of the Cold War, Adam Webber's father Calvin (Christopher Walken), a brilliant but paranoid scientist, built a state of the art bomb shelter under the family home. When the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962, he took his heavily pregnant wife (Sissy Spacek) underground to live for 35 years, hoping to wait out nuclear poisoning. Their son Adam (Brendan Fraser) has grown up in the shelter, educated by his parents and shaped by their somewhat old fashioned values.

Oblivious to the changes on the surface, the family prepares to emerge from their shelter as the 20th century draws to a close. Calvin journeys to the surface, but finds Los Angeles at night a hell hole, full of transvestite prostitutes, destitute beggars, mutants, scary street scapes, and, worst of all, dangerous adult book stores. He decides to keep the family in the safety of their bomb shelter for another decade.

Adam is chosen to go to the surface and bring back the necessary supplies, but he becomes hopelessly lost in the sprawl of Los Angeles. Enter Eve (Alicia Silverstone) and her gay house mate Troy (Dave Foley), who temporarily help Adam adjust to life in the '90's. Slowly, Eve finds herself attracted to Adam's old world manners and unaffected innocence.

Direction from Hugh Wilson (Police Academy, The First Wives' Club, etc) is at times pedestrian and laboured, and the script rarely reaches any dizzy heights of originality. The symbolism of the characters' names is obvious. Many of the film's prime targets are also quite familiar, as this sort of idea has been done before, albeit with more style and humour.

Fraser has played this sort of fish out of water role before (Encino Man, etc), and his performance carries the film. His fresh faced charm and goof ball naiveté adds to the movie's appeal. Foley gets most of the good lines, and his bitchy observations add to the film's camp humour. Silverstone pouts a lot and adds some sex appeal, but her role is otherwise fairly shallow. Walken tempers his usual edgy persona, while Spacek is given little to do as Adam's alcoholic mother.

Blast From The Past would normally have disappeared straight to video, but Fraser's recent string of solid movie roles (The Mummy, Gods And Monsters, etc) has ensured a brief cinematic run.

Copyright © 2000 Greg King

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