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Movie Review

A Cold-war couple, convinced the "big one" has hit, takes shelter in a steel bunker beneath their house. A baby boy, Adam, arrives just months later. All three spend the next 35 years cocooned inside their impressively equipped fallout shelter. When the time locks open, a naive Adam heads into the world for supplies, wondering what mutants he'll find in the post-nuclear '90s—and hoping one will be a suitable wife. Mutants indeed. The morally grounded Adam (raised on black and white 1950s sitcoms) wades through our often cynical, depraved culture with the help of two newfound friends. One is Eve, a foul-mouthed twentysomething who bounces from one shallow relationship to the next. The other is her homosexual roommate, Troy.

Positive Elements: To show the passing years (and their degenerative effect), we see a cheery malt shop morph into a bar. Changes are evident in people's fashion, hair styles, language and attitudes. Popular culture spirals downward. During a brief trip to the surface, Adam's father is suitably horrified by things that don't faze modern-day Americans, including a drive-by shooting and a transvestite prostitute. Likewise, Adam expresses awe at the good things we take for granted (sunrises, rain, the ocean, etc.) which reminds us that we should appreciate daily miracles. Even when faced with modern morality, Adam remains unchanged. He is kind, selfless, chivalrous, chaste and honest. In fact, his decency impresses Eve who concludes, "Why spoil his dreams? They're such wonderful dreams." When Troy learns that Adam got his manners from his parents, he's so impressed that he tells Eve about it, wishing he'd had a similar upbringing. Adam's long-term commitment to his parents models a belief that generations should take care of each other.

Spiritual Content: While a bit flaky, Adam's loving, morally conservative parents demonstrate faith in God and pray together. Derelicts who see the fallout shelter elevator transport Adam to the surface start a cult to worship the family. Adam chastises a merchant for taking the Lord's name in vain, and draws stares in a restaurant when he pauses to say grace over his meal.

Negative Elements: Adam is mesmerized by an immodest suntan-lotion commercial and bikini-clad beach babes. Loose women approach Adam in a swing club where the spotlight shines on some suggestive dancing. Lots of sexual innuendo, anatomical slang and double entendres throughout the film. Frequent profanity includes a use of the f-word. There are also several inappropriate uses of God's name. During decades underground, Adam's mother stealthily escapes into alcohol. Eve claims that "marriage bites," rattling off a list of people she knows who are divorced or miserable in their marriages. There's evidence that Eve has cohabitated with boyfriends in addition to living with her gay friend. Troy tells Adam, "Lying can be a very effective dating tool."

Summary: Beyond Blast From the Past's strained premise, the laughs are few and intertwined with a pretty depressing cultural statement: "Things are getting worse." Moreover, it leaves one with mixed feelings about the romance between Adam and Eve. It's hard to root for them to wind up together because we know Adam's too good for a sullen whiner with no evidence that she's capable of maintaining a healthy relationship. She doesn't need a guy; she needs counseling. Even so, Blast From the Past is not a total loss. It's an interesting means of contrasting the collective moral conscience of 1950s America with what we've become 40 years later—a sobering study similar to The Brady Bunch Movie. But like that time-warp comedy, this movie could be accused of exploiting cultural ugliness to make a point, gratuitously exposing viewers to seedy scenes of present-day perversity just to make a comparison.

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Brendan Fraser as Adam; Alicia Silverstone as Eve; Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek as Adam's parents; Dave Foley as Troy


Hugh Wilson ( )


New Line Cinema



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Bob Smithouser

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