Blast from the Past

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Blast from the Past is actually two movies. The first is a spoof of Cold War paranoia as epitomized by American families building private, underground bomb shelters stocked with enough supplies so that they could – theoretically – survive the first effects of a nuclear blast.

In 1962, the Webbers are hosting a dinner party in their suburban home when news of the Cuban missile crisis hits the airwaves. After Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) ushers his guests out, he heads to the family bomb shelter with his very pregnant wife Helen (Sissy Spacek), just in time to hear a massive explosion above them. He’s convinced that a nuclear bomb has indeed hit Southern California and, as Helen goes into labor, they prepare for the long haul.

Their son Adam is raised in the massive, ingeniously designed shelter, which not only duplicates their above-ground home, but serves as a microcosm of the society that Calvin wishes to preserve for his son. After 35 years, Adam (Brendan Fraser) emerges from the nurturing (and suffocating) womb of the bomb shelter to gather supplies and maybe meet a nice girl.

Enter Eve (Alicia Silverstone). In this second movie, Adam is a fish out of water in a world that makes little sense to him. But then again, he believes civilization has been wiped out, which helps to explain a lot. While Adam immediately trusts Eve, she cynically thinks he’s just another guy out to hurt her, but his puzzling enthusiasm and cordial manners still intrigue and attract her. Will true love conquer all in this sweet-natured valentine? But of course.

The Adam-Eve story is a standard, likable romantic comedy, but co-screenwriters Bill Kelly and director Hugh Wilson (First Wives’ Club) really pull out all the stops in the bomb shelter scenes. Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek play off each other like sitcom vets in a demented "Leave It to Beaver" netherworld.

Ultimately, this is a culture clash movie between two eras of American life. Without advocating a complete return to innocence, Blast From the Past is a gentle reminder of what Americans may have lost by growing so jaded.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for the Metro Times. E-mail her at letters@metrotimes.com.

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