Blast from the Past

Due to the mistaken belief that the Cuban Missile Crisis set off a nuclear war, paranoid inventor Calvin Webber took his family into a bomb shelter for 35 years.  Now, Adam, who has never seen anything but the shelter, goes out into what he assumes is a post apocalyptic world for supplies, and to find a wife.  Of course, things are not as expected, and he meets Eve, a spunky girl who just might be the one he’s looking for.

It is a quirk of how I watch movies that the ones I see the most aren’t my favorites.  They are films I enjoy, but they don’t deserve my complete attention.  I can toss them on when I’m not sure what I want to do, or need to check some email, or respond to a raving Christian who has damned me to hell (again).  Blast from the Past is one of those.

It is less of a standard fish-out-of-water picture then an homage to the screwball comedies of the 1930s (of which Bringing Up Baby is probably the best representative).  There’s the non-realistic situation, fast-talking barb-laden dialog, improbable romance of opposites, slapstick, wacky family, good natured odd balls, and mistaken beliefs that could be cleared up if the characters simply bothered to speak about them.  Brendan Fraser, whose early roles consisted of variations on this part, is perfect as an innocent seeing the wonders and horrors of modern society which we never notice.  Alicia Silverstone returns to her Clueless cuteness level (which is pretty damned cute), making me want the romance to work.  The funniest moments are in the fallout shelter with Christopher Walken demonstrating why he is the king of eccentric characters and Sissy Spacek playing the much put-upon ’50s era wife to a tee, taking solace in her son and secret sips of cooking sherry.  Luckily, writer/director/producer Hugh Wilson understood that the underground routine could only work at a high level for a limited amount of time, so switches gears, and tosses Adam into the world to find his Eve.  It drags a bit in the early third act, and Wilson is far too in love with early ’60s social customs, but Blast from the Past is charming enough to bear repeat viewing.  I caught it first on the big screen, but it loses little on home video.

We’ll review any flick for The Film Atheist that takes our fancy, but I prefer my choices to have relevant religious or anti-religious themes.  Blast from the Past has a few obvious Biblical references floating about (Adam & Eve, The Garden of Eden), but those are just window dressing.  What caught my attention, atheist-wise was the running gag of Archbishop Melker.  An ex-soda jerk turned hippy turned bum, Melker sees Calvin rise out of the ground and takes him to be God.  When Adam appears, he’s naturally “The Son,” and soon there is a blossoming religion that accepts the commandment to leave the elevator alone.  Much of the humor comes from the reality of how easily churches can appear based upon simple and not so simple misunderstanding.