In 1962, Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) was a brilliant but somewhat paranoid scientist living with his Donna Reed-esque wife, Helen (Sissy Spacek), in Los Angeles. In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a plane crashed into the Webber's yard. Mistaking the blast for "the big one," the Webbers moved into their elaborate bomb shelter to wait out the half-life of radioactive fallout. In the shelter, now a sort of time capsule, Calvin and Helen conceived and raised their son Adam (played as an adult by Brendan Fraser). For 35 years, Adam was raised on Jackie Gleason, Perry Como, and stories about life on the surface. Calvin taught his son about science, baseball, and communists while Mom taught Adam about dancing, good manners, and charming young ladies. Just in time, too, as Adam is sent to the surface to gather supplies and find a wife, preferably a nice, non-mutant girl from Pasadena with which to repopulate the world. Once this "fish out of water" story is set up, the fish, Adam, is set adrift in a sea of supermarkets and adult bookstores, but is soon caught by Eve Rustikov (Alicia Silverstone). Completely lost above ground, Adam enlists Eve's help to navigate his new world and find the supplies on his list. The literally sheltered Adam falls for this bitter, cynical, street-smart woman who grew up in a bleak Los Angeles with little use for love. Living with her gay roommate, Troy (Dave Foley), Eve has had her hopes chipped away by a long line of dead-end jobs and loser boyfriends. When the throwback Adam enters her life with his sunny disposition, seersucker jacket, and joy at seeing the sky, she can't help but fall in love.
Coasting on the successes of Gods and Monsters
and George of the Jungle
, Brendan Fraser turns in yet another winning performance in this fish-out-of-water comedy in which Pleasantville meets modern-day Los Angeles, with predictably funny results. Fraser stars as Adam, who was born in the bomb shelter of his paranoid inventor dad (a less-manic-than-usual Christopher Walken), who spirited his pregnant wife (Sissy Spacek, in fine comic form) underground when he thought the Communists dropped the bomb (actually, it was a plane crash). Armed with enough supplies to last 35 years, the parents bring up Adam in Leave It to Beaver
style with nary any exposure to the outside world. When the supplies run out, and dad suffers a heart attack, Fraser goes up to modern-day L.A. for some shopping and long-awaited culture shock. More of a cute premise with lots of clever ideas attached than a fully fleshed out story, Blast from the Past
is also supposed to be part romantic comedy, as the hunky Adam hooks up with his jaded Eve (Alicia Silverstone) and tries to convince her to marry him and go underground. The sparks don't fly, though, because Silverstone is saddled with the triple whammy of being miscast, playing an underwritten character, and suffering a very bad hairdo. Fraser, however, carries the film lightly and easily on his broad, goofy shoulders, mixing Adam's gee-whiz innocence with genuine emotion and curiosity; only Fraser could pull off Adam's first glimpse of a sunrise or the ocean with both humor and pathos. Also winning is Dave Foley as Silverstone's gay best friend, who manages to make the most innocuous statements sound like comic gems. --Mark Englehart