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Blast from the Past

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Hugh Wilson
Produced by Amanda Stern
Renny Harlin
Written by Hugh Wilson
Bill Kelly
Starring Brendan Fraser
Alicia Silverstone
Christopher Walken
Sissy Spacek
Music by Steve Dorff
Cinematography Jose Luis Alcaine
Editing by Don Brochu
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s) February 12, 1999
Running time 112 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million
Gross revenue $40,263,020

Blast from the Past is a 1999 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, Sissy Spacek, Christopher Walken, and Dave Foley.


Plot synopsis

Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) is a brilliant, eccentric, and paranoid Caltech nuclear physicist (see mad scientist), living the stereotypical happy 1960s life during the Cold War. His extreme fear of a nuclear holocaust leads him to build an enormous self-sustaining fallout shelter beneath his suburban San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles home. One night, while he and his pregnant wife, Helen (Sissy Spacek), are entertaining guests, a family friend comes to inform him that John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev are getting into a debate. The family turns on their television, and watch in horror. When the Cuban Missile Crisis begins, they ask their guests to leave, and they head down into the shelter. Meanwhile, a USAF pilot has engine problems with his F-86 Sabre; he is ordered to eject, believing his jet will crash into the Pacific Ocean. Just as they descend into the shelter, the plane veers off and crashes into the Webber home, leaving their friends and family to believe the family has died. The family, having seen the resulting fireball just as they lock themselves in their shelter, believe that the unthinkable has happened and that they are the sole survivors of a nuclear war. The locks on the shelter are set for 35 years and cannot be overridden by anyone inside or outside the shelter - for "their own protection" according to Calvin Webber. They also realize they had accidentally left the radio upstairs; it is now destroyed.

A few days after the locks have been engaged, Mrs. Webber goes into labor, and gives birth to a baby boy, who they name Adam. During the roughly 35 years they are down in the shelter, the world above drastically changes, while the Webber's life remains frozen in 1962. Adam is taught in several languages, all school subjects, dance, boxing, and many other things. The family passes time watching black and white movies via a projector. Adam is given his father's baseball card collection, and shares in IBM, Polaroid, and AT&T.

In the present (which would have been October 1997, though this is not specifically stated in the film) the timer on the locks releases, and Calvin decides to check out the surroundings above the shelter (in full protective gear), which has turned into a ghetto. He mistakes this for a post-apocalyptic world and wants his wife and grown son (Brendan Fraser) to stay in hiding, but suffers from chest pain. Adam, who is naïve but well-educated, is sent for supplies and help, thus beginning his adventures.

Much of the humor in the film is derived from his being unaccustomed to the lifestyle of the present (such as using the term negro, and believing "shit" is a French compliment), believing "gay" means happy, and finding awe in simple things of modernity. Early on, he meets Eve Rustikoff (Alicia Silverstone) at a card store, where she works, and where he went to sell his father's classic baseball cards. She stops the store owner from ripping Adam off and is immediately fired. Adam asks Eve to take him to the Holiday Inn, in exchange for a Baseball Card, worth 4,000 dollars. The next morning, at the Holiday Inn, Eve comes to give back the very expensive Baseball Card to Adam, and after a brief conversation, Eve informs Adam that she has to look for a new job. In exchange for $1,000 a week, Adam asks Eve to work for him, she agrees to help him buy the supplies and his search for a "non-mutant" wife from Pasadena. Meanwhile, Adam meets Eve's homosexual housemate and best friend, Troy (Dave Foley), who offers advice and commentary as Adam and Eve fall in love.

At the conclusion of the movie, Adam's father and mother move into a home at the surface that their son has had constructed with the wealth he has acquired from selling stocks, which acquired great value from splits over the years. Only his father is informed that the catastrophe they went into seclusion for was in fact a plane crash, for fear his mother would be incredibly angry at her husband for her years of mistaken confinement.

The film finishes with Adam's mother at peace with her newfound freedom from the shelter, Adam and Eve engaged to be married, while Calvin, certain that the "Commies" have faked the collapse of the Soviet Union, starts pacing out measurements for a new fallout shelter.




Critical reception

The film received mixed to generally positive reviews from critics. In Rotten Tomatoes The film had an overall score of 59% of the comments positive. In Metacritic had a score of 48% with a 9.0 / 10 "Mixed or average reviews".

Box office

Blast from the Past opened in North American theaters on February 12, 1999. The film opened to #5 ($7,771,066) on Valentine's Day 1999 behind #1 (Message in a Bottle).

External links


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