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Blast From the Past

Posted on

Blast From the Past

Current Status:
In Season
Wide Release Date:
Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, Dave Foley, Sissy Spacek, Christopher Walken
Hugh Wilson
Bill Kelly, Hugh Wilson
Romance, Comedy

We gave it a B-

What’s good in Blast From the Past is so inventive and what’s bad is so blinkered that the best way to describe this fascinating, failed romantic comedy may be as a movie blown to hell. Which, in its own twisted way, is apt: Brendan Fraser stars as Adam Webber, a pleasant, jugheaded naif born in 1962 in the bomb shelter of his parents’ suburban Los Angeles home — his brilliant but paranoid scientist father (Christopher Walken) and timorous mother (Sissy Spacek) mistook a blast heard during the Cuban Missile Crisis for nuclear catastrophe when, in truth, an airplane had crashed into their backyard. Raised underground for 35 years, Adam is taught Eisenhower-era decency, manners, self-reliance, and an appreciation for Perry Como. And one auspicious day he emerges into the blinding ’90s L.A. light. (The star of Encino Man in a Rip van Winkle comedic premise? Get out!)

The promising high-concept kick is that Adam, sent out of his vacuum-sealed Garden of Eden to buy food, is the secure, self-confident child of an intact nuclear family, while Eve (Alicia Silverstone), the ringleted, worldly-wise chick he falls for, is the distrustful product of a stressed-out, unextinct contemporary society. But director and cowriter Hugh Wilson (The First Wives Club), collaborating with artful cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine (seasoned by his work with Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar) and Boogie Nights production designer Bob Ziembicki, never finds a satisfactory way to link underground and aboveground, nostalgia and contemporary longing, the performances of actors as salty as Walken and Spacek and those as sweet as Fraser and Silverstone. (To jostle the elements further, NewsRadio‘s Dave Foley plays Eve’s gay roommate.)

In their shelter — with interior decoration Almodóvar would adore — the Webber family blooms. But on the streets, Adam and Eve fumble, cluelessly, as Blast From the Past teeters precariously on the brink of meltdown. B-