Blast From The Past
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1999; Rated PG-13; 108 Minutes

Brendan Frasier: Adam
Alicia Silverstone: Eve
Christopher Walken: Calvin
Sissy Spacek: Helen
Dave Foley: Troy

Produced by Renny Harlin, Mary Kane, Sunil Perkash, Claire Rudnick Polstein, Amanda Stern and Hugh Wilson; Directed by Hugh Wilson; Screenwritten by Bill Kelly and Hugh Wilson

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Written by DAVID KEYES

"The funniest thing an adult can do is act like a child."

As so, that phrase stayed in my mind during a screening of "Blast From The Past," a lighthearted, original comedy from director Hugh Wilson. The main character is Adam, played by Brendan Frasier, who has been hidden in his parents' underground bomb shelter for the first 35 years of his life. During the Cuban missle crisis, you see, the newsbriefs of Kennedy stating that missles were aimed at US targets frightened a married couple, and so they sought shelter in their specially-built habitat underground. A timelock for 35 years was set, while the couple figured that Earth had been exposed to nuclear holocaust.

But then the shelter's locks open up, and their son Adam has grown into a man, clueless about life but well-mannered and well-educated by his devoted parents. They send him above the surface into a world he's never seen before, and the journey is sometimes so charming and cute that it was easy to look past numerous flaws and appreciate its silliness about the human exposure to society.

The thing is, Brendan Frasier is one of Hollywood's most gifted young actors around, and you are reminded of that everytime you see the expression on his face here, as the clueless 35-year-old son of these two parents. It's probably no coincidence that they cast him opposite of the delightful Alicia Silverstone, since she herself has already been in this kind of role. I guess the filmmakers figured that she could give him a few pointers on how to manage the character's personality, and its somewhat evident, more or less, in scenes like the ones in which Adam sees sunlight for the first time.

Silverstone plays Eve, and is stunned by the great manners and compliments Adam carries into the world. She, of course, at first doesn't realize he's been in a bomb shelter for 35 years, but the setup is helpful in conveying effective 'clueless' chemistry. They have great energy and never once fail to cature the hearts of their target viewers. They are, what you might say, the reason for the film being.

The first half of the movie, though, is best, because it shows how Calvin and Helen, Adam's parents, manage the life of their son while in the missle shelter. These are the kind of parents that you'd want to have if you were in a 50s television show; they're sweet, charismatic, and want what's best for their son. Then again, who doesn't?

Alas, after Adam and Eve (!) hit it off once he reaches the surface, the situations that follow are both boring and predictable, in a matter of speaking. We obviously know that these two are going to fall in love, but why couldn't the film explore a more depthful relationship instead of turning to conventional subplots, like ones involving cults and social workers? I mean, Frasier and Silverstone are both terrific young talents, but if you're going to put them into a movie together, put them into a movie that explores explores each of their fondnesses for the other. We know how Eve feels, but how about Adam?

The same goes for Adam's parents. Even though they're popular in their neighborhood (the film begins with a block party at their house), it's hard to see how they can carry on a meaningful relationship at this point in their lives. There's no chemistry whatsoever, even though Christopher Walken tries his hardest to successfully spark it. Naturally, if you both go down into the bomb shelter with a three-and-a-half decade time lock, you gotta stay together, but even then the attention is not focused on them, and we get the feeling that these parents married each other on a dare, or rather, as a business deal.

Nonetheless, the movie is funny and original. For your standard teenage audience, in which the film is aimed, that should be enough. But don't always think that an idea as original as this can go as far as it should. No, "Blast From The Past" isn't a bad film, but it could have been much better if it had explored the relationships better.

1999, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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