Wacky from start to finish and wildly uneven, the movie is funny far more often than it is dull.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


"Blast from the Past" is an original. Wacky from start to finish and wildly uneven, the movie is funny far more often than it is dull. Writer Bill Kelly's inventive premise conjures up a national nightmare and feeds it to us with so much comic exaggeration that fear simply drains away as we watch an extremist caught in his own paranoia.

Following along with a good cast engaging itself enthusiastically in the fun, the audience moves past initial stupefaction to total immersion. Contagious laughter ripples through the theater. This zany movie turns out to be endearing.

It is 1962, and a group of dinner guests in suburban Los Angeles is watching President Kennedy describe the Cuban missile crisis on TV. It was after that speech that fallout shelters began to dot the American landscape, but tonight our dinner host, the self-righteous scientist Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken), is ahead of them all.

Calvin is jubilant. His fondest hope-the bomb-has been realized. His plans have been validated. He is exuberant in his rightness. Certain of imminent nuclear disaster, he dismisses the dinner guests and proudly leads his pregnant wife Helen (Sissy Spacek) to the elevator that will take them to safety. At last he will get to use the secret underground refuge he has built to protect them during the 35-year radioactive danger period.

A son, Adam (Brendan Fraser), is born to Calvin and Helen. Three decades later, Adam is sent above to test the state of the nation. Thoroughly educated by his father in the details of history, literature, and languages, he knows everything and has seen nothing-not girls, not baseball, not telephones or cars. His guide to the 90s materializes in the person of Eve (Alicia Silverstone), a fast-talking young Gen X-er whose heart is nearly as pure as his own, even if her behavior is not.

Life above ground is represented by a fundamentalist group camped smack on top of the Webber's fortress. It is a device that is ill conceived and heavy-handed. Whenever you see the guy with the beard, just nod off for a while. But try keeping a straight face while Helen pushes a shopping cart through the aisles of Calvin's underground supermarket. Even when you are laughing, you are likely to think it is inconceivable that a studio agreed to film this silliness, and highly unlikely that they could assemble the right cast. But they did.

All the actors in this loony movie jump with delight into the skins of their amiable characters. Christopher Walken becomes the perfect nerdish scientist; Sissy Spacek grows funnier as her incarceration grows longer; Brendan Fraser, who looks a bit like an empty hulk, is anything but. His Adam is a gentle innocent. They have made us chuckle merrily at the charm of a group devoted to delusion. "When we do go up, I'm going to miss this place," Dad says, to a roll of laughter. And so will we.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 500
Studio : New Line Cinema
Rating : PG-13
Running time : 2h


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