Adam Webber (Brendan Fraser) is a man who has lived his entire life in a fallout shelter built in 1962. Now 35 years old, he leaves his shelter and emerges into the corrupt society of the late 90's while only knowing early 60's values. He then sets out to find a wife where he meets up with Eve (Alicia Silverstone) and her gay friend Troy (Dave Foley) who try to help him in his journey.
It's funny revisiting reviews you've written over a decade and a half ago. The review alone for this movie is a "blast from the past" for me. But upon having the opportunity to review Warner's new blu-ray debut for the 1999 romantic comedy Blast From The Past, I thought it'd be fun (and a great reason to rewrite a review that badly needed it).
Some of my feelings penned originally by my late-teenage self do still stand when revisiting this comedic venture. What's most interesting to note about the theme of the film is how it takes 1962 values and drops them in the more modern 1999 setting, showing you how much the idealism of the 60s has been tainted by the progression of our culture. It's all shown in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, and meant to be funny, but it's hard to escape the realization of how drastic things changed--and declined--in 35-years time.
To help paint Adam Webber's fish-out-of-water story, and play off of it comedically, director Hugh Wilson doesn't hold back within his PG-13 limits, pushing the envelope a bit to show how different a sheltered young adult raised on 60s values fares in 1999. As such, there's plenty of language in the film--including blasphemy (which Adam objects to)--the presence of a prominent gay character, and stuff like adult bookstores and transvestite prostitutes. They're all things that illustrate how different the world has become, and how "mutated" it'd seem to someone transplanted from the early 60s, but it also makes you realize how depraved society has become overall in that span of time. You can't help but laugh at the Webber family's ideals in today's context, yet you value them in a way where you kind of long for things to be like that again.
I pointed out in the original review for this film how refreshing it was to have Adam's character hold his spiritual beliefs close to the chest--from reprimanding those who use blasphemy to making sure to say grace with Eve in a public diner setting before they started eating. The film plays it up a bit with how awkward it is for Eve and the humor that comes with it, but it still feels endearing when coming from Adam. Some sexual topics come up fairly frequently, the most obvious being when Eve gets mad at Adam, telling him he should be having "unprotective sex" with a "slut" named Sophie--which she says out of jealousy--and then later asks Adam if he's ever had sex before, to which he says no and then tells her the story of living in a bomb shelter for 35 years. Overall, there's some sensuality and stuff like Adam's father Cal coming in contact with a prostitute on the street who tells him she can be a boy or a girl, whatever he'd like, to which Cal flees in terror (again, played for laughs and also used to show the decline of society). And finally, when Cal does run off in that same scene, he ducks into an "Adult Bookstore," not knowing what it is, and he screams in horror from behind the closed door. There's a running gag throughout the film about Cal telling Adam not to go into "the Adult Bookstore" because of poisonous gas, and Adam using the store as a landmark for where his family's bomb shelter is. At one point, Eve and Troy find themselves inside the bookstore and many of the video covers (yes, they were still VHS tapes in 1999!) are blurred out to keep the movie within the PG-13 boundaries. There isn't anything too explicit shown, but in a family viewing setting, I can imagine this would just add to the awkwardness that comes with some of the sexual themes in the film. Other content includes his mom drinking heavily to cope with life underground (which is played for laughs), and other colorful language, including 2 uses of the "F" word -- one from Eve's boss and one mumbled by Eve while Adam and Troy are talking in the foreground.
The movie holds up pretty well in 2015, although some of the music may be dated (like a saxophone used in the film's score at times), but it was also kind of fun to hear some late 90s hits being used in the soundtrack. The premise is indeed a fun one, and it's still one of my favorite roles for each Christopher Walken and Brendan Fraser (although my favorite for Fraser is still the first Mummy entry, released that same year). The content still holds me back from outright recommending the film, but its new blu-ray transfer does breathe some new life into an older film that has a lot to say about society and love in general. If you're already a fan, you'll want to check that out.- John DiBiase (reviewed: 3/14/99; re-written completely on 7/29/15)
When it comes to blu-ray extras, sadly, Warner put no effort into anything new or unique. All you'll get here is the original trailer, which is in standard definition and looks pretty terrible (definition-wise). But, at the same time, it's a great example of what the film looked like before being given an HD transfer. There were some lame games and interactive features on the original DVD, but no featurettes, interviews, commentary or deleted scenes. I kinda wish something had been added here. Still, if you love the movie and have high definition watching capabilities, I highly recommend getting the blu-ray. It's worth the upgrade.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/29/15)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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